A Memorable Vignette from Our Local Farmer’s Market

Yesterday morning, Linda and I left early for a quick drive to our local farmer’s market. The day dawned beautifully, bright and crisp – the kind of fall day that brightens the spirit and the vivid colors to be seen at the produce displays.

Sunnyvale’s farmer’s market is a weekly occurrence on downtown Murphy Street, the heart of the town’s historic district. After a stop at the Bean Scene for coffee, pastries, and a chat with our friends, Pete and Diane, we parked ourselves on a sidewalk bench to watch the shoppers pass while we savored our coffee. Once finished with our goodies, we typically join the throng as Linda shops and I trail along to supply moral support, occasional funding, and an extra hand for carrying produce.

After 9:30 am, the shoppers are numerous and so are the opportunities for people-watching. Yesterday, as Linda was picking and purchasing produce from one of the vendors, I happened to notice an elderly woman standing nearby. In profile, she had what I would term a noble, Eastern European appearance.
Her grayed, blond hair was neatly braided and coiled upward in a manner indeed most European, and her intent look caused me to look forward to the object of her attention. I immediately discerned that she was watching an elderly man in a blue shirt and baseball cap who was standing next to my wife at a nearby produce stand. The man had set down his little bag of produce and was going through the bills in his wallet to pay for his purchase. When he received his change, he tucked his wallet away, slowly turned, and headed for where we were standing. After three steps, he hesitated, stopped, wheeled about, and returned to retrieve his purchase which still lay on the produce bin where he had set it while occupied with his wallet.

At that moment, I turned to the woman standing nearby in time to see her intent gaze melt into a knowing smile as her mate hastily retrieved his purchase and then headed back toward her. From there they went on to the next vendor where I was able to discretely take a photograph.

The entire scene unfolded in a matter of moments, yet it stayed with me throughout the day. Like his mate, the man also had a distinctly Eastern European look about him. How would I know? With a Polish heritage like mine (born in Chicago), I know Eastern Europeans when I see them.

That brief vignette revealed a couple dedicated to one another, likely for many, many years, who continue to watch out for each other late in life. What better story and message can there be for those of us with a long history together who find ourselves on the cusp of old-age.

I was likely the only one of dozens of shoppers yesterday who were fortunate enough to witness this fleeting interaction amid the hub-bub of the marketplace. There is much to be found in the marketplace if only one is receptive and alert to the possibilities.

A Beautiful Holiday Morning At Our Local Farmer’s Market

This Saturday morning was crisp and sunny, beautiful weather for our weekly pilgrimage to the local downtown Sunnyvale farmer’s market. My wife and I begin most Saturdays on historic Murphy Avenue where growers and vendors set up shop and the morning coffee is excellent at The Bean Scene, located right in the middle of all the action.

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 Murphy Avenue is named after Martin Murphy Junior, a pioneer settler in this locale which today is known as Sunnyvale, California – centered in the heart of renowned Silicon Valley. Murphy Avenue dates back to the early nineteen-hundreds and, today, serves as the downtown focal-point of the community.

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Martin Murphy Junior was part of the first wagon train west ever to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most people know nothing about the history of the Stephens/Townsend/Murphy party, and that is a shame. Their Sierra crossing in 1844 was eminently successful, unlike the famous Donner Party attempt two years later which turned into a disaster when trapped in the Sierra by the deep snows of an early and unusually heavy winter. A significant number of the Donner Party perished during the ordeal, lending special credence to the success of the Stephens/Townsend/Murphy party.

Being an integral part of tech-savvy Silicon Valley, the community has already compiled a durable history of technical achievement and a reputation for being a thoroughly modern, forward-looking community. Within the last two decades, a new interest in the past has elbowed its way into the community’s consciousness; the recent renovation and resurrection of old Murphy Avenue into a thriving gathering place at lunch-time, evenings, and Saturday mornings along with the recent dedication of  the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum are evidence of Sunnyvale’s new vision.

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Coffee Time at the Bean Scene Café on Murphy Avenue

After getting our large coffees and bear-claw pastry at the Bean Scene, Linda and I like to settle on a sidewalk bench a half-block down Murphy near Leigh’s Books, our favorite bookstore in town. The food and produce vendors on the street offer great fare, and the people-watching is superb, especially on a crisp winter’s day when the Avenue (and our sidewalk bench) are bathed in a warm sun.

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We had a wonderful morning on Murphy Avenue today, relaxing with our coffee in the warm sun. All good things must come to an end, however, so we shopped a bit before heading off to prepare for the finale to this year of 2013 which is just around the corner.

Have a wonderful, safe holiday!