Early yesterday morning I went to the local Eveleigh Farmers' Market that's held every Saturday morning. The market is set up in one of the large spaces that was formerly part of the Eveleigh Railway Workshop, but has recently been converted to the 'Carriageworks', a multi-purpose theatre, performance and events space.
[I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that the raffish and often reviled and avoided neighbourhood in which I've lived for so long has such a thing as a very fashionable farmers' market. The impact of the gentrification of inner-city suburbs is surprising, variable and unpredictable.]
So I bought seasonal vegetables, some mixed varieties of mushrooms, my favourite bread, some fresh goat's cheese and a wonderful (though expensive) rack of lamb to share with my friend who's coming to stay this week. But I also bought two things that are rich in associations and have given me great pleasure today.
I bought some cherries.
The farmer who was selling them said they'd come from Young - a town about 350km west of Sydney renowned for its cherries. It's the next door town to the one in which I grew up, where we had three cherry trees in my childhood garden. Each year as summer and Christmas approached, the cherries would ripen and the annual war with the birds over the fruit was waged. The methods were many and varied and included my mother's technique of taking random potshots at the birds with an air-rifle (dramatic but not particularly successful), tying bunches of silver streamers to the branches (pretty but not particularly successful), or my father's more successful, though much less picturesque method of wreathing the whole tree in netting. The cherry season is short, and picking cherries is tedious, so they were much valued and greatly enjoyed. And they're deeply part of my Christmas. I can't bring myself to buy imported out-of-season cherries. They not only incur innumerable airmiles to get here from California, but they somehow seem deeply 'unnatural'. The particular pleasure of cherries is that they are available just now, and will no longer be available in a month's time.
I also bought poinsettias.
They're definitely not a part of my childhood Christmases, but more recently I've been buying them when I celebrate Christmas in Sydney. They seem to me to be a good compromise between traditional Christmas colours and foliage and celebrating Christmas in summer. And they're so bright. Instant Christmas cheer.