The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 13, 2010


To market, to market, to buy ...

It was early Saturday morning and for once we were staying in town over the weekend. I could not have been happier, for I was heading to the Carlisle Farmers Market on Bedford Road to buy the local produce that I have been looking forward to for the past several months. I had my recipes laid out on the dining room table — Zucchini Chinese Style, Old Fashioned Potato Salad, Gazpacho, and Mark’s Salsa Recipe. I was open to other ideas as well, and my husband and I went light on breakfast hoping to return home with some of those goodies that we often purchase to go with that second cup of coffee later in the morning.

By 9:15 a.m., our bags were filled with fresh corn, picked at 7 that morning, purple beans, zucchini squash, red potatoes, tomatoes, goat cheese, lettuce, eggplant and finally, two delicious brownies to go with that cup of coffee.

So I had found the local produce I had been looking for, but I found much, much more. Here in its sixth summer of operation, the Farmers Market has been a place where I can meet my neighbors and friends, some selling vegetables from their gardens, while others like myself, shopping for this wonderful produce, a lot of it coming from gardens at Foss Farm or from local back yards.

There were the four Parker sisters, granddaughters of my old friend Marlene, formerly of Carlisle, gathered around a small table selling their homemade delights. Artist Francoise, whom I hadn’t seen since the summer before; she was shopping, but she told me she would have her cards on sale the next week.

I was eager to purchase goat cheese from Carlisle Farmstead Cheese, since I knew that they were about to move to central Massachusetts later in the summer. There was my former neighbor Leslie, who has moved to Prospect Street, selling among other things, jalapeño peppers. She gave me a hug and shared her recipe for jalapeño butter with me. And there was my husband’s colleague David and his wife Janey, cheerfully manning the table for their chef-turned-farmer son.

I spoke with present and former colleagues from the Carlisle Mosquito, talked with a friend who was recovering from a hip replacement operation, and saw others whom I hadn’t seen since last year. Where else do Carlisle residents have a weekly opportunity to both shop and chat with members of our community during these hot summer days? Thanks go out to Gale Constable and Annette Lee who have organized this yearly event which makes me, and I know many others, proud to be a resident of Carlisle. ∆

Parkman Howe

The Dog Days of Carlisle

The Dog Days are upon us! Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. knew about the Dog Days. The Romans kept an official time in the calendar for the Dog Days – July 24 to August 24 – a tradition still honored in various European countries. The Old Farmers’ Almanac pegs the Dog Days from July 3 to August 23, when the Dog Star, Sirius, is visible at dawn just before or during sunrise. During the Dog Days, the rainfall reaches its lowest level in the year. The Old Farmers’ Almanac may not always be right, but it is never wrong.

This July we escaped the mainland heat and humidity for a few days on North Haven, an island in Penobscot Bay. There, heat and humidity express themselves as fog – soft, delicious, chilly fog. Carlisle’s lack of oceanfront real estate may be its only failing.

At Foss Farm, gardeners have been working the hand water pumps the way sailors on a sinking ship man the bilge pumps. Day after hot, withering, wilting day has parched plants and soil. Where the gardeners have been able to keep up with watering, the stalks are thick, the leaves dark green. Last week we plucked our first vine-ripened tomatoes.

Town Hall was busy on August 2, tax day; otherwise, business has been light. Sales in the wine section of Ferns have also been light, as one would expect in August, vacation month. The traffic too has been light at the rotary during the daily commute. And sunlight has evaporated the crowds on Saturday mornings at the Transfer Station.

Weekend boat traffic on the Concord River has been steady, as has been the cycle traffic at the rotary and at Ferns. Cyclists and drivers continue to share the heated roads, but with increasingly sullen courtesy. Bates Farm continues to offer solace to the sweltering, and large cones to the uninitiated.

The Cranberry Bog is deserted at noon. Dog walkers and runners now emerge at dawn, then re-emerge at dusk. Mosquitoes gather around even a trickle of water. Otherwise, their numbers too have suffered. Swimming pools have bloomed with algae as they heat to the temperature of a tepid bath. Sunny days evaporate water at such an alarming rate that owners constantly wonder if they have a leak.

Malls and movies offer respite in air-conditioned twilight as temporary as a Hollywood hallucination of happiness.

Honeybees love the hot weather. Our four hives become frantic in the direct western sunlight of early afternoons. Their cousins, the yellow jackets, have also been busy, digging hives in dry oak stumps that have to be eradicated when all inhabitants return home at night. Digger wasps tunnel in the dry soil among tufts of brown, dormant grass. One noontime I watched a golden-bodied wasp drag a bright green grasshopper down its barrow, an allegory of the Dog Days dragging down the spring.

According to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, published in 1813, the Dog Days of summer designate a time when “the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” O cool alpine meadows of Colorado! O Humbolt Glacier of Greenland! O blessed Canadian ridges of high pressure and the salvation of September! ∆



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