Market Day

Saturday is the first of two very critical days in the calendar week—two days of decompression. The rest of the week contorts and, yes, compresses us into any shape it pleases. Those five days demand, and we must obey. Those five days suck away our individuality and spirit, and superimpose their own on us so we conform to the ideal and are “part of the team”. But we take two days for ourselves (if we are a few of the truly fortunate ones), and define time by our own standards. We pursue our own goals in those 48 hours and gird ourselves for the next round of supplication.

I shared an office in the newborn days of my career with a man teetering on the brink of retirement. He would chain smoke cigarettes from the desk at the other end of the office, and every morning he would ask me, “What’s it all about, Nan?”

“It’s all about the money, Frank.”

“You got it kid, and don’t ever forget it.”

And so would begin another day of torture for my lungs, but a day that would shape my future. Turns out, a lot of it is about the money. Let’s be frank..pardon the…oh never mind. A lot of it really is about the money, but there’s a layer over the top of that. A much thicker and richer layer filled with the chaos of friends, relatives, neighbors, and other assorted entertainment that is REALLY what drives us. It’s the difference between working to live, and living to work.

The Harbor Market is one place where the chaos comes together to buy vegetables, and consider the possibility of soy soap and candles. These might not seem like the actions of the powerful magnates of the future, but really we all need our five servings of vegetables. So there they are contemplating the over-inflation of vegetable prices based on location, location, location. They find themselves doing the calculations of the time spent planting the seed, watering it, hand picking the pests off the organics, reaping the crop, and trucking it to the market, and wondering why it costs more than what you can buy at the local grocery. Well, genius, welcome to the world you’ve built with the other five days of your week—the world where money is the bottom line and none of it goes to the people doing production, but to the suits in the top floor offices. However, you can stand on this street every Saturday and consider a soy candle, so you shouldn’t begrudge another man his living. Welcome to the world. Enjoy your visit.

In the meantime, consider the importance of your family, and their everyday needs. Now consider the possibility that you might some day need to grow the vegetables that go on the table. Could you do it? There you will find the true value of your life. If you come up a bit short, at least you can be comforted by the thought that they share the same concerns, and are taking your well-being into account. They are aren’t they?

So Sandy (my new acquaintance from the market) looks at the drawing above, and tells me, “You’re making it look so much better than it is.”

In our conversation, she reveals that she’s been a resident of Kenosha since the 60s, and when she looks at that condo in the background, all she can see is the slums of tomorrow. I told her that I’d move to the area for a better quality of life, and she asks, “Is this really a better quality of life?”

She answered her own question in the next 10 minutes or so as she assumed the role of teacher to student, and filled me in on all the great opportunities for entertainment and culture within the city limits.

As she left to finish her bike ride she told me, “I hope to see your art on display some time.”

I chuckled at the thought, but said, “I hope so too.” Thinking that it would be an opportunity to draw my family and friends close to me, enjoy their company and share a day of comfort and the enjoyment of a soy candle, a loaf of crusty, rye sourdough bread and fresh kohlrabi. These are the small pleasures of life that facilitate decompression—embrace them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Join the Conversation


  1. You are right – the money, or lack of it directly influences how we live. Also, town, city or rural affects us. We all trade something for something – a little more work for pay or a little less goods for more time off. So, good story- it was food for thought. And,good sketch – food for the eyes (soul).


  2. You moved me, Nan. I\’ve always loved your writing style and again, you proved how observant and philosophically gifted you are. I\’ll eagerly await another chapter! Hugs from your AP


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