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Last weekend, I did something I’ve never done before, and never thought I’d want to. My Gram, Virginia Martin, and I went to the weekly French Market in downtown Geneva. When I called her to see what we’d do that day (I visit Gram at GreenFields at least once a month on Sundays), she said, “Let’s go see all the beautiful produce!” Boring!, I thought, but I didn’t want to offend her.
After a moment, Gram said, “Trust me, you’ll like it.” It sounded in her voice like she was smiling. I’m driving now – yay, I passed my driver’s test on the first try, and Mom and Dad don’t freak out anymore when I take the wheel – so I drove myself to meet her at GreenFields. Before I even got inside, I saw Gram outside admiring a huge new flower bed that residents had planted on the Willows patio.
“Ava, come look at these!” I rolled my eyes and parked as far away from other cars as I could. (Parking lots still scare me!) But Gram was so enthusiastic, I did my best to seem excited too. When I saw the bright flowers in the fresh dirt and all the butterflies flitting from one to the next, I had to admit, it was super pretty. A good feeling came over me. Gram knew all the names of the flowers, but the only one I can remember now is “bleeding heart,” which seemed a strange name until Gram pointed out how the flower actually does look like a heart with a drop coming out of it.
“So, we’re going to some farmers’ market?” I asked. “It’s called the French Market,” Gram corrected me, “and it’s wonderful. I used to go there with Grandpa and your mom.” I’m going to France this year with my high school French class, so I thought it might be educational at least.
Gram had never driven with me before, but if she was nervous, she didn’t show it. Downtown Geneva is only about 5 miles from GreenFields, so it wasn’t going to be a long trip. “Onward!” she said. Slowly, I made my way to the parking lot at 4th and South Streets, with Gram’s help getting there.
What I imagined to be a few farmers in overalls selling some dusty vegetables turned out to be the most awesome thing. Not only were there vegetables and fruits of every color, shape and size, but there was also jewelry and art and cool clothing, soaps and cheeses, pastas, oils and fragrances, cookies, cakes, teas…I couldn’t believe it! “How have I never seen this before?” I asked Gram, wishing I’d brought more of my allowance. “I didn’t think you’d be interested until a certain age,” she said, giving me a wink. She could always read me so well.
Seeing that I was totally interested, Gram told me that even though there are so many places to purchase anything you could want, open-air markets are something special. Not only do they help area vendors and support the local economy, they are more of an experience than a regular shopping trip. I knew right away what she was saying – I could sense it immediately, almost like the feeling I got at the flower beds at GreenFields.
All the smells, colors, random people chatting with each other and bargaining over prices (Gram’s really good at it!), things to touch and turn over, samples to taste and try, people smiling and proud of their merchandise, a lot of it hand-crafted.
The market was almost closed by the time we left, and Gram was nice enough to give me some extra money to spend. “That’s what grandparents are for,” she said.