To Market, To Market

At last a Saturday that is flood free and group free! This little piggy is going to market! The Oracle Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday morning from nine until noon at the Triangle L Ranch, a most unusual place that includes a quaint bed and breakfast, gift shop and sculpture walk featuring the owner’s metalwork. Charlie and Jeau are weekly vendors at the market and I am excited I finally have a free day to attend.

I leave Aravaipa early in the morning to finish errands first. Home Depot, a stop at the bank, a haircut and a quick stop at the grocery store are behind me as I pull into the ranch and drive up the lane, unsure of where I am going. I pull in next to some parked cars just outside the gate. I don’t see anyone but walk through the gate following the sound of voices. As I walk around the tree I spot the market. It is small, only eight vendors, but it’s a lively crowd and there seems to be an equal amount of customers and dogs milling around. I spot Jeau sitting at a table with some folks and wander over.

“Hey! You made it!” she says giving me a hug.

“I did. Finally. Is this your booth?”

She jumps up and shows me around her table. Jeau makes homemade prickly pear syrup, prickly pear and agave nectar, mesquite flour, cookies, and is taking advance orders for tomato seedlings. I am already hooked on the prickly pear syrup and eager to try her other wares. Her table is colorful and artfully arranged. On the corner is a big pot of chocolate is simmering.

“This is my hot chocolate with some chipotle spice! It’s thick and rich like pudding.”

I inhale deeply. The rich aroma seems to fill not only my nose but my belly too. There is a small wooden building up ahead and on the porch I see a smiling woman behind a table loaded with baked goods. She waves me over.

“You’re new here!” she smiles putting her hand out. “I’m Sue.”

I introduce myself and tell her I just moved to Aravaipa Canyon. I feel an arm around my shoulder.

“She’s one of us now.” Charlie snuck up behind me. I give him a quick hug back.

“Charlie and Jeau have been my guardian angels since I arrived.” I say and Sue nods her head.

“They are angels to everyone.” She says.

Sue talks to me about her wares and I am excited to see that she carries a line of baked goods made using rice flour. Gluten free cookies! What a treat. I snap up six cookies and a small zucchini bread, all made with rice flour. I take Sue’s card and tell her I might be interested in ordering baked goods for some of the groups that come out to the ranch. Sue is retired. She has a little baking business to keep busy. It sounds like her baking keeps her very busy, catering to churches and other groups as well as the farmers market. She is short and stout with a kind round face. And I like her.

“I’d be happy to bake for you. I need twenty four hours notice minimum. We can figure out some place to meet so you can pick up any orders.”

A white haired gentleman walks up and Sue introduces me. His name is Ben.

“A face I don’t know yet! What’s your name.”

I tell him my full name and he whips out a notebook and pen and writes it down. I spell the last name for him.

“Usually I take a picture of new people I meet so I can remember their names and faces. But I forgot my camera today. It doesn’t work anyway. I never forget a face but I still forget the names!”

Sue, Charlie and Ben proceed to tell me about the Triangle L Ranch. It is the definition of rustic with old wooden buildings dotting the grounds, each painted a different color. Stones are placed to form walkways and tiny Christmas lights, although not lit, are strung along the buildings and trees. Dogs roam freely, greeting and visiting as much as the people. It is a lively social gathering that people come to every Saturday to catch up with friends and neighbors. Sue tells me that today’s market is big with eight vendors, sometimes there are only two. But she always sells out.

Charlie introduces me to Sharon, the owner of the ranch. He tells me that Sharon often brings in musicians to play on the front porch on Saturday nights.

“And you don’t want to miss Glow.” He says.

“What is that?” I ask

“Glow is held every October. Sharon brings in music and opens the grounds at night for wandering. Everything is lit up and everyone wears something that glows. She passes out little glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets.”

“You can’t miss Glow.” Ben agrees. And I make a point of adding my name to the email sign up list for Triangle L events.

Munching on a gluten free cookie, I wander over to another table. Pots of curry and rice are cooking, filling the air with heavenly smells. The woman behind the table is scrambling up some eggs with fresh greens.

“I’m making green eggs.” She says.

“What kind of greens are you putting in there?”

“Whatever I grabbed with my hand.” She points to a cooler filled with arugula, Italian parsley, chard, bibb lettuce, and dill. Fresh eggs are for sale $4 for a dozen.

“These are pullet eggs.” Quentin, the farmer, tells me. They are small long ovals in the prettiest shades of soft tan and blue. They are enchanting.

“I’ll take a dozen eggs.” I say.

“Sorry. I’m about sold out. I only have half a dozen left.”

“Then I will take your last half dozen. And some greens.”

Together we pick out a bag full of arugula, bibb lettuce, parsley and dill. He charges me $2 for the eggs and only $4 for the bag full of produce. I am delighted! Quentin tells me where his farm is located and that there is a small artist’s colony across the way. I make a mental note of the directions and add it to my list of things to do.

I meander, shaking hands with more people and scratching every dog’s ears. I end up back at Jeau’s table. The morning is still cool so I buy a cup of her hot chocolate, prickly pear syrup and two bags of mesquite flour. I leave my purchases under Jeau’s table, unwrap another cookie and head to the sculpture walk, hot chocolate in hand, passing by a fenced in area full of goats, geese and chickens.

The sculpture walk meanders through the grounds. Sharon finds metal objects and crafts them into pieces of art. Old car bumpers line part of the lane, pitchforks and shovels are twisted into interesting shapes to frame pieces of stained glass. Tiny green and blue glass hats hang from tree branches. Rusted metal horses and coyotes romp near a stone lined wash, more blue bottles are used to form the branches of a wrought iron tree. Twinkle lights are everywhere. Around a corner is a little Zen garden interspersed with Buddhas and more metal sculptures. A wrought iron gazebo across the way invites one to sit, sunlight filtering through blue and green stained glass. I find it wonderful, peaceful and interesting. I finish the walk and the spicy hot chocolate at about the same time. It’s almost noon so I wander back over to Jeau to collect my purchases. I wave good-bye and head back to the car.

I can’t resist. I unwrap another cookie.

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