Yesterday I celebrated my birthday (a few days late) with a trip to Olympia, Washington with my daughter. It takes a couple of hours to make the drive up Interstate 5, with scenery that helps to melt to stress away. I enjoy many things about this town—its waterfront, the proximity to the Olympic mountains, the small town feel with all kinds of interesting places to go, and the beautiful buildings and grounds of the Washington State Capitol.
We went to our favorite place for lunch—excellent food, beautifully prepared, and served in an artistic setting with a beautiful view of the water and the busy marina. Afterwards we wandered across to the Farmer’s Market which is housed a welcoming and easy to navigate barn like building with more booths and stalls and a performance stage arranged outside. There are so many wonderful things to see and think about in that barn. We were amazed by glorious flowers and splendid displays of vegetables and herbs. All kinds of handcrafted goods called us to see and touch, and we enjoyed talking to the artisans about their work and methods. We bought a few things: seed packets for heirloom flowers, a 16-ounce bottle of Worm Tea, a concentrated plant and soil conditioner made with worm castings, and a blue lace-cap hydrangea to plant, and I’m still thinking about placing an order with a clay artist for a custom house number sign.
As we went out into the sunshine we had to walk between giant bins of beautifully fragrant apples to get to a coffee stand. If there was a perfume that smelled like those apples I would wear it. It was magical. Just a short distance on my daughter spotted the coffee stand and I saw the happy surprise I didn’t know I was looking for: Poems, Your Topic Your Price. A young woman sat at a table just large enough to hold her small manual typewriter, with her earned money going into a large sewing box at her feet. I absolutely could not resist. I asked her about business and she said she’d been pretty busy all day. I asked about typical topics and she said the range of requests that day had been wide and varied although love was generally the most popular on any day. And so I said yes, I did want a poem. My topic would be cooking with spring produce, and I would like a mention of rhubarb please. We agreed that I would pay after I’d heard the poem, and that I should come back in ten minutes. Deal.
Clickety-clack, type, type… I was back and it was done. She asked if she could read it to me first, and she held up the small piece of card stock and read:
crisp with spring waters.
Leafy greens unravel
of clean blood.
Stalking the rhubarb
to fill the pie,
sweeten the sour
with strawberry light.
of the reborn Sun,
in winter’s long passing,
steaming fresh as bodies transform
into summer joy.
I am so happy with this rhubarb poem. I’m going to frame it for my kitchen as a reminder of the great fun of writing on the fly, and of a beautiful day unfolding just when I needed it.