Friday, August 15, 2008

Ride More. Think Less.

This is the time of year when things come into focus.

The air has been crisp lately. Unusual for mid august. Blue skies. Endless visibility.

Heavy thunder storms have been rolling in after dark, clearing the air for long morning rides. The kind that start with a cup of coffee and end with a late lunch. The kind of rides that lets me forget why I bought a motorcycle.

Passing through the back country, time is marked by changes in the road. Slowing for curves. Stopping for intersections. The occasional photo. There are no distractions. No work. No bills. The bike has forced me to stay in the moment and focus on the road.

I'm riding more and thinking less.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Roadside Profits

Buy Fresh, Buy Local

The small town where I grew up had a brick a market building. On Saturdays, it housed local farmers selling their produce from behind whitewashed plank stalls with sea-green tops.

Tomatoes from Washington Borough, sweet corn from Hempfield—no need to squeeze or strip—it was all fresh and ready to eat. Refrigerated cases housed cuts of meat from local butchers. Eggs that were under chickens the day before sat on counters by the dozen. Neatly stacked in pressed cardboard cases, no factory labels, just the words ‘fresh eggs’. There was no truer advertising.

There were Utz potato chips, served warm in paper bags gritty with salt, and Hassebach’s soft pretzels. You can still get Utz chips in local groceries, but their not fresh from the fryers. And the soft pretzels? They were made by a very local mom–n–pop business that made nothing else. As it goes with most local flavors, they disappeared when the owners retired. My mother still mourns the pretzel vendors that would linger on the steps of the local banks and churches downtown. The warm pretzels wrapped in oil stained towels and stuffed in wicker baskets. You could get two for a quarter.

Buying local has become popular once again. But in Lancaster County I don't think it ever went out of style. The Central Market in Lancaster has been in operation since 1889, and if you keep your eyes open, you can still find a good road side stand.

I love local.