On Thursdays I pick up my farm share. It’s a box of locally grown organic produce sown, grown, harvested and delivered to a nearby locale for pick up by moi. I’ve chosen the farmer from his seasonal crop planning and self-marketing session held each year at my favorite coffee shop.
Community Supported Agriculture (a CSA) connects farmers with buyers and opens a connection between buyer and seller that lends itself well to learning about everything from where food comes from, to identifying 7 kinds of lettuce, to cooking fresh with seasonal ingredients. For about $25 dollars a week, paid in advance, my farmer gets to do his thing and in the spring, I get to eat the fruits of his labor.
I used to pick up my CSA share from a garage. The door was opened to the public at about 2pm. The owner wasn’t home. CSA purchasers show up, unload the crate into environmentally friendly canvas bags, or plastic, I have to admit when I’m just not on top of my schedule and forget entirely and have to show up before that garage door closes and use whatever I can find in my car to carry my vegetables home.
This year I live in a new neighborhood. I chose a new CSA that delivers to the local speakeasy a few doors down. To save a few bucks I split my CSA with a good friend and that means on delivery day I need to go into the establishment with two canvas (not plastic) bags and divvy up the goods. I’ve become something of a spectacle. I hope an anticipated and engaging spectacle, but I don’t get to determine what others think of me. I just have to be me. And hope they are laughing with me (not at me) (as the saying goes).
I arrive at the beginning of happy hour. Good timing, right? I know. By now the bartender knows my name which is kind of ironic given it is a speakeasy so true anonymity would probably be best but this isn’t the 1920’s (as much as I’d like it to be.) And what does it matter that I’m unknown. I’m certainly not unnoticed. And neither are the Thursday happy -hour regulars who are at the rail every. single. week. Jeff arrives on the dot of Four. He sits down. Orders a rum and coke. Peruses the menu, waits for his wife to show up at about 4:30 after she gets home from her job. When I come in, Jeff is sitting there, sipping, and serves as the buffer between paying patrons and the people who come in for vegetables but not corn based beverages.
Jeff makes small talk until the bartender is free. Last week that bartender was Kevin, he shared hints about the upcoming fall menu and a quest to brand the speakeasy as a spot for a variety of classic Old-Fashioneds. And he’s serious- he intends to serve the classic midwest Old Fashioned involving real cherries and pickled mushrooms. I’m liking this guy. I’m not sure a speakeasy is known for brandy old-fashioners…I envision Gin Rickey’s but I’m open to ideas. Kevin has them. He’s done this before. He knows what he’s doing. I think. He thinks. Does it matter? Kevin is telling me why he wants me to keep stopping in, why he wants me to bring my friends, why he wants me to talk about what they have going on there OUTSIDE of the bag of veggies sitting on his bar.
Holly is the waitress who has the gift of gab and can upsell a plate of steamed garlic infused kale as easily as a free refill on one of those Old Fashioned Kevin is pushing. Holly takes a peek into the canvas bag of veggies and admires the size of my zucchini. I smile and bob my head, no innuendo is lost on her. We grin together and stop ourselves from stroking the firm, dark, round eggplants. She chides me for not stopping in for dinner and I promise to make the trek with my family if I can talk them out of being digital screen time addicts. I have teenagers. That’s another story.
Behind the bar is Devan. She’s new to this spot but cut her bartending teeth on a spot up the road at a cajun flavored NOLA themed restaurant and bar run by the same chef as here. She knows the menu, likes good crab cake, is sad that the perch has been traded out for (sigh) cod and admires the bacon mac and cheese. Down the rail, the rest of the happy people spending an hour at the veggie pick up spot slash bar, all start nodding and spouting accolades related to crisp bacon and Wisconsin cheese. Devan and I get into a bit of a shared kumbaya moment recalling the power of last week’s viewing of the eclipse and she wants to show me her pics which she captured with the help of an infrared lens app that she used with her iPhone. I’m not sure if the latter actually exists but there’s no way to prove it as her phone is dead and is sitting behind the bar holding the proof of her conquest.
Paul wanders in and I politely move one of the divvied up bags of veggies so he can sit down to my right. He has his Packer jersey on and is staying for the game. He asks why I’m sitting there having a drink with a bag of gorgeous red onions, leeks and some sort of jalapeño pepper medley? I’m hot, I say, and they get along with me.
I take another sip of my chocolate lab porter, brewed by Wisconsin Brewing Company, just a few miles to the west and settle in for a little back and forth with whomever might take the seat to my left.
I’m not looking for anything. I do, however, love to connect up. It’s not the same as a hook up. It’s actually, totally different. And I’m okay with that.
#for Reticent Mental Property. Images courtesy of the web.