To prove I can connect almost anything to the art of writing, I want to tell you about my experience at the Mansfield Grower's Market yesterday. Our local growers are businessmen and women, educators, farmers and hobbyists. They all tell their own stories at the market if you stop to talk to them which you have to do if you go at all. There are those who farm for a living and it is at their stalls that I usually buy strawberries, garlic scapes (I didn't even know what scapes were before!), corn, tomatoes, onions ... and for my sweet tooth, cinnamon buns, cookies or quick breads - that sort of thing. There are those who farm "part time" - in other words, farming is not their vocation but their hobby. It is from the hobbyists I get the more interesting, unusual things: goat's milk soaps, beeswax hand lotion bars, no less tasty scones of many flavors and my first taste (last year) of dandelion wine.
The performers who keep us entertained at the Market while we peruse the goods are usually local too and very talented. They tell stories in song and almost always introduce themselves and tell a bit about where they're from. I've had the opportunities to listen to one local musician, Wyett Ingrim several times. He usually plays the Market with the group Folk Spirits (Wyett Ingrim, Ross Shourds and Bill Phillips). They sing a few familiar tunes by familiar country and folk artistis, like John Denver and Johnny Cash. They also sing their own music with a good, toe-tapping, hand-clapping rhythm to it. One of my favorites is "Crosswalk Bowling" written by Bill Phillips. Funny, talented and a pleasure to talk to, these men - none of them youngsters - have grabbed hold of a dream, writing and singing their own songs. They have even been featured at a new local watering hole, the York Holo Brewing Co. I haven't been there yet (though the food they served at the hot cart at the Grower's Market yesterday was terrific!) but I plan to go, if just to listen to the Folk Spirits one more time.
Maybe you're wondering how I've connected this to writing - or maybe you've already guessed. Talking about the Market, communicating with you about it, and about the things that happen there was worth a blog post. It is all part of the journey. There at the Market, I can be inspired by the wonderful food from Double A Farm in Muncy, PA, Yorkshire Meadows marvelous Lemon Curd and gloriously colored yarns or Always Something Farm's soaps with their many mellow, intriguing scents. I can listen to music that reminds me of my childhood and chat with folks in my town about everything under the sun with the realization that in more ways than one, we are not alone. Even if I am the only crazy novelist in Mansfield (which I'm sure I'm not!) I've got sympathetic ears, wonderful characters in reality to draw from and - best of all - good food all around me.
Use what you know, who you know when you write. I've already included some of the people, stories and things these local growers bring to the Market as fodder for my stories. I plan to continue to use them as inspiration - especially from 3-6 pm every Friday all summer long.