Yesterday I spent the day in San Jose with my parents, for Mother’s Day, and we went to the farmers’ market. The grey sky washed everything over with dullness, and we hugged our upper arms with our hands when the wind touched our skin. It was not the springtime holiday one would hope for. And yet, after walking past overcast-darkened booths of dark green lettuces and light green peas, I saw the most amazing burst of orange and red and gold: Shasta Gold mandarins, bigger than any mandarin has a right to be, all pitted lumpy surface, heavy and substantial with concealed sweetness and juice. I bought five and dropped their weight into my shoulder bag.
Around a corner, down at the end of the way, big round white orchids turned their showy faces to the passersby. Beside them their magenta cousins also displayed their lithe long stems and ever-popular flowers. But inside the booth, in a shallow tray set on a folding chair, there were four black pots like teacups, their mouths sprouting smooth green leaves and little companies of orange dancers waving their limbs in the breeze. I picked up one of the pots and felt the plant become mine: perfection of grace for $8.
Later, I stopped at another vendor to inspect his orange bread: plastic-bagged loaves of what looked like yeasted Cheetos. The vendor saw my orchid and said he’d considered buying several for his mother to plant in her yard, until he learned they were indoor plants. So he’d asked the orchid man to set aside some other plants for his mother instead, but he still admired the orange flowers. I pulled one of the mandarins from my bag, to show him, and he commented on the orange day I was having. I asked if he had a sample of the orange bread, and he said no, but he’d sell me a mini loaf at a discount, in honor of my orange day. I accepted. When I got home I cut myself a slice. It tasted like a Svenhard’s Danish.