I totally did this while I couldn't blog and I have been wanting to talk about it ever since.
I think I started the original blog post with "Oh, my HEAVENS" and still think that today. I have been trying to tease out how to make this kind of thing happen closer to my home and it's just so big, it would need a team of people to do it and alas, I do not have that at my disposal.
I was invited to the Seattle Farm Co-op Barter and Potluck by a friend of mine who is a member and was helping to organize it. I don't think even she knew what a success it would be - it turned out awesome!
The premise is just as it sounds - a potluck and barter fair - people who are members, or who wanna be members, brought food and goods to barter. The evening started out with eating and looking at the stuff people had brought and having beer and wine - pay for the cup and fill up as much as you want! I do not drink, but if I did, that would have been rad. People meandered around and it quickly became clear that we were going to fill up the original room, so we spilled out across the hallway to barter and eat.
The fair was held in an old schoolhouse in the Phinney Neighborhood in Seattle - close to the zoo and home to the best burgers in Seattle (a tie between Dicks and Red Mill). The old schoolhouse is now a community center and it perches on a hill overlooking the Phinney neighborhood of quiet little craftsman houses and well kept yards. Creaky old wood floors and slanted stairways led the way up to a big gallery at the top that would house the hippies.
Oh, and the hippies were out. In full force. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Idealistically, I'm a hippie. But I wear deodorant. And that is where the differences begin. I'm way too self-conscious to be an unabashed hippie. I like brushing my hair and wearing clothes that are understated and match. I also wear makeup and can't play the drums (no rhythm, here). But hanging around with people who think like me in terms of being organic, keeping chickens and other livestock and canning our own harvest means I get to mix with all sorts or really interesting, intelligent and deliberate people and therein is where the magic of this evening started.
This guy was awesome - brought his own honey, jams and jellies and other assorted yummy things. People were selling all sorts of interesting things. Earrings, mushrooms freshly foraged that morning (chanterelles mostly), honey, knitted goods, jams and jellies, salsas, sauces of all kinds, etc. Essentially, anything that people had made and wanted to barter for other things they needed. Someone also brought a duck that needed a new home. I don't know what happened to that duck. I hope someone took it home and was happy with it.
Pretty soon, musicians started to play and that is when I really found my bliss. I love live music but HATE to go to concerts. I'm not a fan of crowds, driving, paying for parking, or being out late. I closely resemble an 85 year old woman when people want to go to a concert with me. I will do literary readings. That's about as close as I get. And even when I go to those I spend the first 20 minutes planning my escape route in case of an earthquake. I just saw Jeffrey Eugenides with the GM and I fretted for a good 10-15 minutes about the amount of people in the auditorium and the steepness of the stadium seating as it pertains to casualties in case of an earthquake. I also make comments on elevators about it getting stuck. I usually take the stairs.
But I digress.
The musicians started to play. In a very ad hoc sort of way. A bango and guitar player started turning out some really good "folk" music (like old-timey appalachian music - which I have a soft spot for anyways...), then a fiddle player joined in. It was so pretty and lively and people were kind of bobbing around while they listened and looked at the goods. The tot got down and wanted to dance and she joined another toddler in doing the spasmatic up and down dance that every toddler is fluent in while I tapped my foot and soaked it up.
Eventually I deposited the tot with my very good distinctly non-hippie friend, who was such a good sport to come out with me, and started shopping. I wanted honey. That was my goal and everything else was a bonus. I had brought along blackberry jelly and asian pear sauce to trade and thought "no one's gonna want this stuff!" and 30 minutes later I had my honey and more!
Eventually it became too hot and crowded to enjoy myself in the main room so I led the tot across the hallway and found another room in which people were sitting and eating and listening to a quartet of musicians jamming away. Ahhhh, yes. Here we go. I plunked the tot down and broke out her dinner and sat back to watch the musicians get all up in it. A upright bass, fiddle player, guitar and bango - just jamming away. I was absolutely in heaven. Every once in a while you find yourself in the right place at the right time in your life and doing exactly the right thing for that moment. That was this one evening.
I left with a sugar pie pumpkin, earrings, TWO jars of honey, peach preserves and apricot pancake syrup.
Just a stellar evening, all around. I don't need to join the co-op since I live super close to the actual country and go 10 minutes up the road to get hay and chicken feed, but in downtown Seattle, the co-op is indispensable for people to get their goods and i'm so glad they are around. I might join just to attend more events like this!