Monday, September 20, 2010
The Sound of Sunshine is arriving drowsy at 6:30 and greeting the other drowsy vendors--some stoking their fires for BBQ, or arranging produce in edible rainbows, setting out loaves of bread still warm from some distant oven, or hanging their tie-dyes to whip in a technicolor breeze.
Some days, they soldier in wind and rain. Other days they bask in summer's glow and come home with sun-kissed necks. They wait out a breeze, knowing it will pass. It always does. And if it doesn't, the day's money was that much more earned.
The sound of sunshine is the soft hush of money passing from the hand of someone who worked for his money to another who worked hard to make something worth that money. It is the sound of bills getting paid for some and the sound of pocket change for others. It's the sound of the free exchange that takes place among vendors at the end of the day: a plate of tacos for a loaf of bread, a bar of huckleberry soap for a pair of earrings. It is the sound of mutual respect. It sings, "I am just like you."
The sound of sunshine is what I can't see but hear while "manning" my booth: over in the Square, the man in the checkered shirt calling square dance moves to women shaking crinoline stuffed skirts. Or perhaps the old man who isn't a scheduled act but shows up anyway to crack open his case to reveal his set list, which always includes some Dylan.
The sound of sunshine is the sound of shoes of all sorts hitting pavement. They are frat boys and farmers. They are office execs, teachers, preachers, and whores. And all their shoes sound alike. There are babies being wheeled and babies being carried in the blossom of their mothers' bellies. There are women who make their own dresses, who keep their hair in kerchiefs with little girls trailing behind them who look Godly and purposely plain. There are leather-clad, the tattooed and dread-headed. There are motorcycle mamas and soccer moms. There are squeaky clean men and the moses man who seems wise just based on the curve of his spine, and you're sure his walking stick always points him in the right direction, whatever that is.
The sound of sunshine is the leather patter of dog feet. All types of dogs: Great Danes, guide dogs, puppies still learning the ropes. Dogs caught in the intoxicating stew of scent...a food booth wafting Mexican or Egyptian or Greek...the smell of the dogs walking in the opposite direction...the smell of sorority girls walking en perfumed masse.
The sound of sunshine lasts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from May through October, until half past the return of the college kids. And then it moves on, carnival style or gets packed away or forgotten altogether in favor of "the real world" or a real job. Shorts morph into pants. Tanks and dresses divest themselves of warm bodies and get packed away. Mornings get crisper. There's dew on the windshield. Men blow into their hands to keep them warm when putting their tents up. The leaves fall from the trees, and the whole world seems wrapped in a sweater.
The sound of sunshine is a whisper in the ear of those who stroll the aisles. They know it won't be long before the sunshine is gone completely. There's only so long to savor the peach and how its juice drips down your arm. There's a time and place for huckleberry pie, and that time is closing in. Some try to preserve the sound of sunshine in Mason jars or in freezer bags. Some prefer to eat the sound of sunshine while it's ripe. Some know sunshine is best when we miss it most.