Bloomington Diary – Part 4 – Farmers Market

I was always fascinated by the term farmers’ market, having seen it in movies & TV shows. It was the first of a series of lovely surprises planned by my daughter.

The market is located at 401 N. Morton Street Next to City Hall – Shower building. We walked along a beautiful old railway line that is now converted to a walkway, called B-Line Trail, to get there. The Bloomington community farmers’ market is open every Saturday from April through November. I did not know what to expect till I landed there. Only locally grown organic products of Indiana are sold there. It was pretty & colourful, with very friendly vendors. I am gradually getting to notice that Midwestern people are genuinely nice- always smiling & wishing you as you pass by. I did end-up buying blueberries, black walnut, Chanterelle (mushrooms) a.k.a Golden Chanterelle & greens. They had prepared specialty foods, nuts, fruits, honey & wax products, fruits & vegetables, annual & perennial plants, etc. The tantalizing smell & colours made me want to stay longer but we had to head back fast. Hope I can visit the place once again sometime.

Touching, seeing & eating fresh wild chanterelle was in my bucket list. It’s pretty expensive & the lady who was selling it was handling it like gold!! But it was really tasty & the irony was that I ended up sharing it with so many youngsters & I am not even sure they realized what it was!

I also tasted the Japanese cucumber which tasted so good… almost like the summer country cucumber grown in paddy fields back home!!

I never knew there was such a thing called black walnut. The shell was so hard & different from the Asian walnut. The nut & its hull reminded me of a nut that we used to eat from the trees back home. The tree used to ooze out a red resin that eventually became Amber. Come to think of it, I have not eaten it in ages. The strangest thing was that there were very few nuts costing a fortune in a zipper bag & the vendor showed me a bigger bag with plenty of nuts in their shell for a cheaper price. He also meticulously explained how hard it is to cut & separate the nuts. I bought the ones with the shells wondering how hard it could possibly be but I ended spending so much time separating them! Finally my husband made me throw half of it!! The nut is more flavourful & a little heavier on the tongue than the Asian walnut.

There were large tomatoes in pink, yellow & red colour arranged side by side, gleaming in the beautiful morning sunlight.

The candles from the bee wax were crafted into so many different shapes.. including birds & animals.. so beautiful… I was tempted to buy them all! But sadly never bought any…

I had the privilege of meeting a lovely young Amish couple too, which was another first for me.

I went to most of the shops asking if I could take pictures & all the friendly, stunned vendors were more than happy to allow me to photograph their products& them.

Like I said earlier, I hope I can head back there soon! Despite having seen so much, I feel like I barely spent any time there. I must make this a weekly plan when I come back to Bloomington next year.

Bloomington diary – Part 1 – Small town blues

Firstly, sorry for the long delays since my last few posts, been travelling all over in the last month or so, including a long eventful drive cross country through America. This next set of posts has been a long time coming, and is a summary of collections and stories from my previous trip to the USA in 2014. Hope you enjoy!

When I landed in Bloomington, Indiana on 4th of July, I was wondering what I was going to do for 3 weeks & planned to make walking & losing weight as my number one priority…

Bloomington is a small Midwestern University town & it’s practically empty during the summer months of June to August when most students will either be away on internships or on holidays. That is almost 65% percent of the population.

Like all the university towns of North America, it’s a peaceful wooded town & the forest beside the state highway reminds me of a drive on Coorg roads. The air is fresh, water is clean & people are friendly. Like every nation in the world where people closer to nature are friendlier than the city dwellers, bloomy goes one step extra- at least compared to Providence, RI.

People passing by, even though very few at this time of the year, always have a smile or a wish or at least a nod, irrespective of the colour & creed. Even the youngsters walking the dog also were in the same league. People drive with caution & in an intersection where there is no signal always the one who comes even if a fraction of a second earlier gets the preference. And here the pedestrian rules the road & everyone waits religiously.

Whole surrounding is extremely clean, & the lawn everywhere well-manicured. The birds singing early in the morning with various sounds surprise you as if you are in a rainforest. Plenty of hares running around showing off their white spot on the butts!! Occasionally you can spot the grazing deer while driving around in the evenings.

Surprising there aren’t many gardens around but many wild flowers peep here & there, popping their head out on the grass. Unfortunately, I could not get a single picture of the wild flowers beside the forest as stopping anywhere even for a short time is prohibited & Uncle Sam could pop up anytime from anywhere it seems.

Many a times I see the Asian cousins of various plants with little variation in colour or texture or flowers or the leaves. For example I met the cousins of the orange trumpet, ekka flower, & strangely a wild edible mushroom (umbrella mushroom) which of course my husband would not even let me pick. There was also a mushroom similar to the tree-mushroom but on the ground- later I realized that perhaps it is because they use wood-shaves in the garden & the mushroom must have evolved!! That’s reminded me that in spite of everything, there are lot of things common at least in the nature and over which man does not really have control. No visa or green card or residence is required!!

The remaining summer students at the bus stop reminds you of the era which you are in as everyone sports a mobile phones and are unaware of the world around them. As usual either talking or texting in their own shortcut words, murdering the English language itself! The words they use sound like they are writing some Vedic mool-mantra or something… At times I wonder if the future generation will even know how to write by hand or calculate using their brain. It’s every inventors dream to create a future robot with emotions & motion like humans. But I think it’s going to be the other way around & we are going create children, rather future generations, who are like robots… The bus stops stands beside a beautiful pond with a weeping willow tree. I don’t think most of the students are even aware there is a pond behind them…ha ha ha!

While walking in the morning we came across the rushing fire brigade & everyone promptly made way for them. The siren could be heard from far & even before the fire engine had hit the signal, other drivers had already made way. Then in a while the police car followed & then the medical vehicle. Everyone knew exactly where they are supposed to go unlike the usual scene I witness where the fire brigade goes round & round, perhaps because it’s a small town & later after walking a kilometer plus we saw the medical vehicle going back. No wonder fireman & fire chief are well respected in the community.

Even though you can get stuff in plastic bags in the super market (Marsh – the only one nearest at 1 km away) & in pharmacies, etc., you don’t find any plastic bags lying everywhere. It was odd one day, when we found a bag lying on the pathway between the meadows near the apartment. My daughter wanted to pick it up & carry home to put in the dustbin as for about quarter kilometer there was no dustbin. But I would not let her do that because I was afraid that something must have been inside as a normal Bloomington citizen would not do that. Next day it was still there on the grass & flowers of the meadow, carried by wind.  At the end of the day it was cleared by the young man who was mowing the lawn. So in 25 days, that was the only time I saw plastic lying around. Even the two young men running though the garbage bin just got in, collected what they want, & left without messing up outside.

The main post office is very close, practically across the place I stay but quarter kilometer away still functions in full swing; mostly I see the elderly people working. May be I should take a chance & go & meet or talk to someone there.

On 16th July while walking home in the morning, around 10 am, we saw a mobile kept under the tree. Perhaps someone must have found it & kept it there in case the owner comes looking for it.  We were wondering if we should pick it & give it somewhere, a lost & found place perhaps, but we were afraid to touch it.  Then I thought of the news I watched a while ago on the theft of mobile phones in New York city last year (about a million!) & the high light was on a girl who lost her life. She was shot by two men in a car who stole her iphone when she was talking to her mother telling she is on her way home, while get into her car.

Another time early morning we saw a pair of sunglasses kept neatly on the grass besides a parking lot. Someone must have found it and kept there.