If the day is Saturday…
…start with the market.
Buy potaotes from the Potato Guy who has a dozen different varieties at least and can tell you the history and origins of every single one. He will also tell you which ones make the best potato salad, the best for mashed, scalloped, boiled, baked, fried, potato-pancaked, you name it, he will tell you. He is the Potato Guy.
Buy mushrooms from the [you know what’s coming…] Mushroom Guy. Only in this case it’s the Mushroom Gal. But she’s not there in person in winter [though her ‘shrooms are]; in winter she’s in her lab figuring out how to cultivate morels. I think she’s doing a PhD in mushroomology. Seriously. The Shiitake are always spectacular. And the Portobello are fresh and don’t need their insides scraped out before you eat/grill/sautee them the way they do when you get the ones from Outer Mongolia at the grocery store.
Buy chocolate from two lads who call themselves ChocoSol and whose [better than fair trade] endeavours are worth supporting. Not to mention the chocolate. Which is worth eating. Expensive, but that’s because it’s ethical and real. And that is the price of ethical and real food. The recipe is simple: buy smarter, eat less.
Buy clean, fresh greenhouse greens from the guy right near the entrance at a tiny table where you never know what he’ll have from week to week, but you know it will be excellent.
Buy apples from the St. Catharines guy, also apple cider; and for god’s sake, don’t forget the pulled pork pastry from The Pastry Peddler or a jar of freshly jarred honey—or cheese, or perogies, farm fresh eggs, homemade pies and cookies, sausages and a few samosas.
Buy flowers to feed the soul.
Remember to thank the buskers for their delightful ambience.
And be absolutley stunned that you spent all your money but applaud yourself for spending it so wisely and in a way that will directly help others, rather than helping already-doing-just-fine-thanks grocery store gazillionaires who bully farmers.
Make a mental note to get cat food on the way home.
Visit a 94 year-old uncle who has a fractured femur but that doesn’t stop him lighting up at the bag of mudpie chocolate cookies you bring him from the market. [p.s. bring him reading material also; Harlan Coban is a good choice.]
Have lunch at Elements. Have the wild boar pate. Have the mussel and fish stew. Have the vino verde. Smile. Sit back. Breathe. Be thankful.
Pop into Titles Bookstore. Buy a copy of something local.
Decide against visiting the many second hand bookshops on George Street [you can’t do it all] and walk west, along the river instead. If you see litter, pick it up. If you fancy a sit down, well then, for pete’s sake, sit down. [Make a note to try the patio at the Holiday Inn once the weather heats up; lovely view.]
Walk all the way to the art gallery, one of the best you’ll see anywhere, where you might find an exhibit by the students at PCVS, a local, downtown high school under threat of closure—and then wonder at the madness of the powers that be.
Choose as your favourite, an installation comprised of one large pink velveteen sofa with dark and ornately carved trim, above which are four standard paint-by-number style formal landscape paintings in gilt frames, each of which has been over-painted in Norville Morriseau style interpretations of ‘landscape’.
Second favourite installation: a text written on the wall, denouncing art. Heart-breaking in one way, given that the artist feels there’s no point in art because no one really gets it and it changes nothing. Oh dear. I want to find this person and say: it doesn’t matter. Do it anyway.
Walk back along the river to your car and make a mental note to wear better shoes next time.
Go home. Eat, drink and be merry.