So there I was Saturday morning. Knute drove me in to town at 6::30 and waited while I walked through orientation, then helped me get all my gear to the spot I was assigned after everybody else had picked theirs. I knew this meant I wouldn't have a prime spot, but that's OK. We're in this for the long haul. I was encouraged by how friendly all the other vendors were, and by how many shoppers wandered through quite early.
I didn't have the bungee cords from which I hang my weights (to keep the canopy from blowing over); I must have left them in the car. That's OK, there wasn't any wind. It started to get a little chilly, so I pulled out my sweater and found that a sleeve had fallen on the ground and gotten wet -- my booth was right over the drain grate. That's OK, I had a pretty warm shirt on.
The product review committee came by and welcomed me. They checked my products to make sure everything was labeled properly, and they wanted all the brownies to be double wrapped -- they all get wrapped in plastic at baking time, but then we add a cute bag, gold labels, and gold twist ties. I agreed with their opinion, and started bagging everything. It was getting colder out, and my fingers were getting numb as I tried to twist all the ties. But that's OK, I could stop and warm my hands in my pockets every few minutes.
It started to rain late morning -- not the light drizzle that had carried through the night, but real, serious rain. And a little wind. My tables started getting wet. I don't have sides for my canopy yet; they aren't high enough on the budget priority list. Everything was getting damp -- the linens, the products, the signs, the boxes, my feet ... That's OK. I moved everything into the center of my tent and made room for customers to stand under it when they approached the table. We laughed a lot about the weather and complimented one another for being hardy northwesterners. Most of the vendors were under overhead structures, but I was about as exposed as possible. That's OK -- people were awesome. The wind knocked my tent around a little, but as long as I grabbed it when the wind gusted, it held up fine, just dumped quite a bit of water on me in those moments. That's OK, there weren't very many gusts.
The canopy is not, apparently, water proof. The fabric held up OK, but the seams leaked. That's OK, it was only a few drops here and there. Until the rain really started to dump. That's OK -- I had a roll of paper towels, and could spend my time between customers dabbing at the damp spots.
I was getting pretty soggy by this time. That's OK. I called my son, who was coming by soon anyway, and asked him to grab my jacket and bring it. Knowing that I would be warmer soon, I gave in to the chill and started shivering. A lot. And my nose started to run. You can't handle food if you touch your face, especially your nose. That's OK -- I had my official hand-washing station with sanitizing soap. The water had gotten quite cold by this time, and my paper towels were now soaked through. But that's OK. I wasn't spreading germs, and my jacket was coming.
My son, having dropped off the hot food for the street meal nearby, arrived after a very frustrating half hour of hunting for our booth all over the market in the dumping rain. He said he wasn't able to find my coat, but had grabbed a pair of knit pants instead by mistake. Eager to reduce his stress, I just laughed. I asked him if he'd looking in the closet, and he said that no, he hadn't, and that he didn't realize that we even used the closet. (The kids have found creative ways to store their clothes without ever hanging anything up.) I said that yes, the grown-ups keep their coats in the coat closet. But that's OK. He had found a scarf that I was able to wrap around my neck and shoulders.
The kids were wet and cold too, so I gave them some money and told them to go find some lunch and bring me back anything hot. They picked up some Vietnamese pho and a latte -- totally awesome. The soup warmed my hands as well as my stomach, and I felt supported and cared for, albeit quite soggy. All in all, it was a successful day, and we were able to tear down quickly at dusk and get back to our warm house. Knute cooked dinner for me. More support -- more love. I'm so lucky! I put on my dry bathrobe and slippers and sat in my recliner most of the evening, counting my blessings.
I can't count my blessings without remembering that so many people will never come near the luxurious lifestyle I enjoy -- all the people who were on the street today, looking for cover, not having any escape from the damp and cold, not having a family to call for a jacket, not having money for hot food, not having a home to retreat to and get warm and dry, and, worst of all, not feeling any love or care or affection or even acknowledgment from anybody. Ever. That is not OK.