This essay was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of Our Jackson Home: The Magazine.
There is something comforting about ritual. Of course there’s also something comfortable about the familiar, but ritual is different. The repetition that comes with ritual isn’t out of habit. It’s not something you slip into, like ordering the same dish every time you go to your favorite restaurant. It’s done with intention, with reverence, and with appreciation. For many Jacksonians, Saturday mornings at the West Tennessee Farmers’ Market is one such ritual.
There’s something about waking up easy in the cool of a Saturday morning at the end of a long week. If you’re like me, you stretch and turn in your bed until your covers seem to fall away. You take your time warming up to the day. Maybe you listen to some music as you wash and dress before heading downtown. As you walk in the shade of the market’s pavilion, you examine the colors of the fruits and vegetables and flowers that perhaps don’t seem too spectacular on their own, but when collected in one place, in all of their variety side by side, the colors burst and a gratitude wells up in you at the mere the abundance of it.
You walk slow here. You enjoy the breeze and the taste of tostones from the La Cubanita food truck as you take everything in, people-watching the other passers-by and the vendors. Sunlight illuminates jars of amber-gold honey. There is a trailer stacked high with watermelon. One melon sits on top, split open to show off the bright red promise inside. A pocketknife is fixed upright in the heart of it, ready to carve out a sample for those curious to taste. The juices spill out with each bite, and you spit out a seed before asking, “How much?” From the back of trucks you can buy catfish or free-range meats or donuts that melt in your mouth and leave you dreaming of vanilla.
As your bag fills up, you stroll through the market one more time, eyeing baskets of your favorite foods. You wonder if you need more peaches for the cobbler you’re making. If there’s a way to incorporate okra into a meal this week. If one baguette is enough. And then you take your food home. You open a window and let the contents of your bag pour out onto your kitchen counter. And it is here—here that the ritual is fulfilled. It is here that the bounty of your Saturday morning will go on to nourish you. Whether you break off a piece of bread before work or cut up some fresh tomatoes for a simple salad or prepare a large meal for those you invite to gather around your table, you will be sustained and nourished until next Saturday morning. Until you can partake once again in the exchange between farmer and neighbor, in the sun and the breeze, and of fried plantains.
The West Tennessee Farmers' Market is located at 91 New Market Street in downtown Jackson and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Josh Garcia is a commercial photographer who landed in Jackson in 2008. With a B.A. in English from Union University in his back pocket, he’s abandoned other adjectives for “home” when describing this city. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, and cultivating community around the dinner table. #INFJ
Header image by Josh Garcia.