So, the whole family is here now. Last night my parents had a party (in our house) for 20 of their closest friends, and today there's spa-ing and the rehearsal at the church and then the rehearsal dinner, and then tomorrow, starting at 7am, we're jumping down the rabbit's hole of wedding prep.
I thought about adding a bunch of freaking-out gifs, or big piles of wedding cake and people falling down drunk, but honestly I'm having a pretty good time. Everyone who didn't come to my wedding is at this one, so I'm seeing family from all over the world. My sister's fiance is a great guy, and his family is lovely, so there's a lot to like and plenty I'm comfortable ignoring right now.
I'll add some photos of the event after tomorrow, once we get it out of the way. Those of you who've done this sort of thing before know that it's a time sap, so I'm not getting any writing done until people are gone. However, I was convinced by a friend to send a short novella I wrote for something else in to Dreamspinner this week. It's a genderbending, modern-day retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, and I'm kind of in love with it. I'm going to give you guys a little excerpt today because, darn it, I'm in a good mood and so should we all be! I've no idea if it'll get accepted, I should find out in a month or so, but at least I'm putting new stuff out there.
Have a wonderful weekend, darlins'!
The last farmer’s markets of the year are always the best, in my opinion.
Autumn is the season of abduction, the gasping end of summer’s time of plenty, when everything living in the ground exerts itself with one final burst of fecundity before going gently into that dark wintery sleep. The stalls of the local farmer’s market are filled with produce, fruits that are smaller than their early counterparts but all the sweeter for it and greens that have just barely avoided being touched with frost. It’s the season of preserves, jams and jellies, pickles and sauerkraut stacked in bright clean jars on orange and red tablecloths. It’s the season of keeping and consideration. Even though I know I can get almost anything I want from the local supermarket, even though I could certainly grow it myself if I took the time to build a proper greenhouse here, I like the sense of scarcity. The culinary specificity, as it were.
One of the booths has bottles of last year’s ice wine on display. To make ice wine the grapes have to freeze on the vine, literally perish of the cold, before they’re harvested and pressed. It makes the wine uniquely sweet. I don’t normally drink but something about the metaphor moves me. I buy a bottle and continue my ramble, enjoying the sights and scents of people and dogs—so many dogs, it seems like everyone in this town has one—pushed together in such a small space. Boulder’s farmer’s market is hosted on a small stretch of street between a park and an art museum. Next to the art museum is an ornamental tea house and I’m tempted by it, a chance to escape the chill, but it’s not so bad out that I can’t browse a little longer.
There are stalls making artisanal pizzas baked on the spot, or empanadas, kebabs or gyros, each one with vegetarian options. Children run from the bakeries to the florists to the puppy tied up in the shadow of a tree behind one of the vendors. People jostle for space in front of the booths, hands reaching for samples, voices raised in conversation, debate and laughter. It’s nice. Lively. I like the energy of it, being in such a crowd. Sometimes I feel like a battery, and that I need to be part of a group to properly recharge. Being in a greenhouse gives me the same buzz, and without the headaches that can come when I linger with noisy people a little too long, but I haven’t put down roots here. I won’t. This is a break from my regular life, a stutter in the breath of responsibility that normally fills me and gives me purpose. I like it here, but I can’t maintain it. Have to enjoy it while I can.
I buy a kebab from one of the food vendors, meat so tender the first bite literally melts in my mouth, breaking to pieces under the gentle pressure of my tongue. It’s blissful, and I shut my eyes to savor the flavors more fully. Lamb with a Moroccan flair: I taste coriander and cumin, the heat of ginger and the sweet bite of cinnamon. I finish my bite and reach for another.
Only my wooden skewer is empty. I stare at it for a moment, then down at the dog sitting at my feet, its jaws wide open in a grin. It’s a pitbull, I think, or maybe a pitbull cross of some kind, charcoal gray with two white spots on either side of its muzzle. It looks very pleased with itself, and so it should, I reflect as I shake my head and throw my skewer in the nearby trash can. “Well played.”
A tall man in black jeans and a dark brown Henley is striding toward us, his expression on the grim side. “I’m so sorry,” he says once he’s close enough to be heard over the crowd. His voice is a pleasant baritone, with the slightest hint of an accent I can’t quite place. “Bear got away from me. Please tell me he didn’t knock you down searching for a treat.”
“Nothing so dire.” I pat the dog—Bear—on the head, and his owner sighs.
“That’s a polite way of saying that he did get something from you. If my dog ate your lunch, the least I can do is replace it.”
“It’s fine, really.”
“Please, I insist.”
I look at the man, look a little deeper for the first time. There’s a veneer of irritation over his face, but beneath that I get a sense of depth, of layers. Irritation, affection for the dog, pleasure at a new, impromptu meeting, and…I pull back. It’s none of my business.
“Well, if you insist.”
“I do.” He glances behind me at the kebab shop. “Although the line here has grown very long. We may as well sit down if we’re going to eat properly.”
I’d been thinking of stopping at the tea house anyway, but… “Will they let you in with Bear?”
“Possibly. If not, then we’ll sit outside. There are heaters set up beside the tables.” He holds his hand out to me, palm facing more up than sideways. When I take it I almost expect him to raise my knuckles to his lips. The thought makes me blush a little, and I hope he doesn’t see it. “Felix Clymenus.”
“Lee Summers.” We shake, and his lip curls slightly.
“A pleasure, Mr. Summers, despite our unorthodox meeting.”