Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sagebrush Pen

Typical farmers' market, not ours, we don't have tomatoes yet and our location doesn't have those nice trees.

The Kennewick Farmers' Market has been moved from downtown Kennewick out south here to an area called Southridge. There are ambitious long-range plans for developing Southridge, but as one "farmer" told me today, "There's not much out here." This lady was selling Chelan Cherries, which she informed me came in earlier than the I was hoping for. She pushed a bucket of purple cherries toward me and told me to try one. "Don't worry about that," she said, gesturing to the dun-colored powder on the cherries, "That's just dust."

It was windy this afternoon and the farmers' market is set up in a parking lot next to an expanse of land that's being leveled for construction. Dust devils whirled over the parking lot and tented awnings flapped energetically in the wind. The cherry lady was stocky and immovable in the wind, although her should-length, straw-colored hair flew about like Saint Vitus. I bought a pound-and-a-half of cherries and moved on.

I had been looking for gifts for some Slovenian friends we'll see next week and came across a table filled with pens labeled "Sagebrush Pens." I stopped to inspect the pens. A diminutive, bright-eyed older man wearing dog tags and a baseball cap with "U.S. Air Force" written across the front was looking up at the tent he had constructed over his display table. "I may have to take this down," he said. I asked him about the pens. "Made with sagebrush," he said. He gave me his card. It said "DICKS fancy WOODS" and under that his name, "Dick Rambo."

Dick was from Pasco and had been hand making wood products, pens, belt buckles, key rings, etc., since his retirement from the Air Force in 1971. His card said "Wood from your History, Transformed." I asked him about that. "A lot of these things are made from the wood flooring that was torn up from Richland High School during its renovation," he told me. I bought a pen made of sagebrush and told him it was a gift for a friend from Slovenia. "That's a first," he said.

I took my cherries and my pen back to the car and drove away from the flapping tents in the Kennewick Southridge Farmers' Market. A sign at the highway tells me to expect "Burger Bob's soon." It's been there for several months. The farmers will be glad when it finally arrives.

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