The morning was brisk, it seemed as if the wind woke up on the wrong side of the bed. She yanked on the branches, tugging and pulling, scattering leaves as she made her way around our yard, pounding the carport with pecans.
Patrick got up and it seemed like old times as we divvied the market goodies. "Hmm. Think we can sell this many loaves of Milk and Honey bread at the Alpine market? I wonder how many I should take to Terlingua?" We grabbed the extra table, the extra tablecloths and cutting board and knife and receipt book and I deposited Patrick and half the goods at our usual spot. It was barely daylight when we headed down the street around 8:15. After unloading his things, I pointed the car south, heading toward Terlingua ghost town.
Terlingua used to be a mining town back in the day. It was rich in cinnabar, from which mercury is extracted. In the late 1800's the village grew to a population of around 2000, serving several mines in the district. The desert is boiling hot in the summer, and mild in the winter. The area is remote, on the road to Big Bend National Park. There is no dirt. Just dry powdery white dust as hard as pavement, dotted with ocotillo, creosote and scrubby mesquite and cat claw, with many varieties of cactus thrown in for free. Interesting draws and canyons make one curious to take a hike, just remember to take your water and watch out for snakes and vinegaroons. And wear a hat. The Chisos mountains in the distance are a brilliant backdrop in what is some of my favorite country in the world.
Can you imagine a farmer's market in such a spot? Almost 80 miles due south on Highway 118, over some mountains, across some desert flats, through a pass, and then turn right and go up and over a few dark rust colored hills, turn onto the dirt road, past the old time cemetery, and there, tucked in between the cactus, is nestled a community garden and almost a dozen vendors.
Today's venture was a bit of an experiment, because I am rather partial to community living and farmer's markets and local economy (have you noticed?). I know it is crazy to drive so far, but this does happen to be one of my favorite drives in the world, and as I listened to Motown and drank my coffee, it almost felt like a vacation, watching the ribbons of cottonwoods, glowing golden under the pink and gray sky, weighted down by heavy piles of clouds.
For a moment I wondered if all those hours of baking yesterday were going to be for nothing. I mean, really, just how many loaves of bread can one ghost town of 200 something people, spread over 40 miles or so, buy? Would I even be able to recoup the gas money? If not, at least I would get to spend the morning meeting some new friends, hanging out in one of the state's totally hip spots...
Well, Shannon and Zoey greeted me with hugs and genuine delight and I was was delighted to see the huge garden they have been working on for the last three years. www.terlinguagreenscene.com is their website. These folks are all about everything we have been trying to do in our own life for the last several years; help the community develop viable ways to use resources available to them to grow their own food and create an economy with their local infrastructure.
The garden is lovely, even in the middle of the desert in a horrible drought, and the vibe of the farmer's market was a joy. I couldn't believe how many locals came out to buy bread and peppers and milk and cheese and other goodies. Tourists who happened to be in the ghost town for the big Chili cook off came out to sample and walk away with Pumpkin Kamut muffins and Spelt Apple Challah and Seedy crackers.
Along with some great chat, I sold as much at that little ghost town market as I did back at our Catawba market. Crazy. Good. And got a significant dose of Vitamin D.
Patrick was a wonderful partner here in Alpine and I was thankful he was able to represent the bakery for me and that the other kids managed in town while I worked on the experiment.
I won't drive down to Terlingua every week because that distance isn't practical for our family. But once or twice a month is a good economy. Especially if next time we can continue the short drive on to our favorite national park for a nice hike!
Running the bakery is hard. Sometimes so hard I think it is going to do me in. Yesterday I woke up and got to work at 3am. Put the head on the pillow at midnight. It is hard to run the family as a single mom. The lines between work and home get really blurry when work is at home and vice versa. But farmer's market day is a good reminder why I am doing this. I am filled to overflowing with gratitude to all the folks who make the effort (and in regions like Alpine and especially Terlingua, it is a HUGE effort!) to go out of their way to spend their hard earned money on my bakery goods. The truth is, no matter where you live, it is a big effort to get out to buy locally produced foods and products. It is well worth it, but it is expensive and inconvenient. I am humbled and thankful to imagine that my freshly milled whole grain breads and other things are contributing to the good health of other people and they are contributing to the good health of our local economy. And so far, (Please, God, let it continue!) we are able to pay all our bills.
Well, the wind is calm, the sky is tinted pink and I get an extra hour of sleep tomorrow morning!!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.