When she enters the market office on Saturday mornings, Marjorie Johns always brings with her the beautiful scents of bergamot, lavender, and eucalyptus that seem to have permanently embedded themselves into her very being through years of incorporating these essential oils into her handmade soaps. Along with her calming scents she totes her jar of overnight oats complete with clove-laden peach jam at the bottom. She chats with me about her visit to her dad in Indiana and how her chickens are handling the snowy weather.
Marjorie’s big red van parked along 4th Avenue is as comforting a sight as my first cup of coffee at 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings when crisp autumn air has gone and winter brings snow-covered walks and dark morning hours that stretch well beyond when the market opens. I’ve been lucky enough to spend these early Saturday hours during the past five winter seasons listening to Marjorie’s stories of worldwide travel, innovative solutions for tricky vegetable crops, which hand warmers are truly worth the investment, and what her spirited cats have been up to most recently.
Several years ago Marjorie and I connected on an entirely new plane as significant health circumstances dominated the lives of our two families. Amidst this unwelcomed season Marjorie sent me a card that has remained a source of hope and light to this day. The quote from Sister Barbara Hance on the card’s cover said, “Show me a day when the world wasn’t new.”
Not only has this message rung true as modern medicine, positivity, sheer determination, and a heap of grace have carried us along through those darkest health moments, but so much more broadly as each Saturday, each season, each year with its own weather, people, tastes and creativity have shaped each market table, each vegetable, each interaction between friends, growers, and eaters. This is what makes the farmers market sacred. The market is a place for perennial, necessary, satisfying food – for our physical selves but also for our human selves, our spirits. We come to connect to what we eat and to one another. To know and be known. To see that with each market day, “Ah yes! Again today the world is new.”
Majorie Johns of Stone Cloud Gardens sells her lavender, bergamot, and lemon eucalyptus soaps and her clove-laden peach jam along with many other lovely varieties at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market during winter Saturday markets. www.bobswifessoaps.com
Sarah DeWitt has been the manager of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market since 2012 and is humbled and grateful for the many ways she has been fed through this work and this place. www.a2gov.org/market