The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish.
~ Kobayashi Issa
I found myself in the parking lot of the York Chamber of Commerce farmers market this morning, picking my way through the stalls of organic farmers, bread bakers, soap makers, jewelers, artists one and all. On a practical level, I was seeking tonight’s dinner (and my missed breakfast). Deeper still, my soul sought the moment’s moment. The new. The now. The fresh.
That’s when I saw the radishes. Or perhaps they saw me, pointing my way as in Issa’s picture perfect poem. It is particularly apt in this case that you can read “pointed my way” in this haiku at least two ways: “pointing at me” or “pointing me to the right way.” The first interpretation allows for an almost aggressive interpretation, the farmer brandishing the radish in my general direction. At the very least it could be seen as a bit overly friendly, waving a benign yet mildly threatening radish at me.
The second potential meaning, as in guiding me on the best path, is the more likely.
Either way, I could not pass them by, the radishes. They beckoned me. A halo hovered over their rosy gloriousness. I could hear choirs singing. They were cool and hard to the touch. I never drooled over the thought of eating a radish before, but these rosy orbs called my name. I could barely wait to cut them into spicy thin slivers over my garden-picked swiss chard and beet greens.
I scooped them up quickly (before I lost my way, before the farmer threw the overly friendly radish at me), paid, and moved as if in a dream to the next stall.
It must have been that Disney film we watched last night, Ratatouille, about a rat who wants to be a chef. At a high point of drama, these grand words were placed in the mouth of a hardened food critic:
“…the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
Indeed. Even these new radishes need a friend. That friend shall be me.
Of course, the critic was talking about culinary prowess disguised in the form of the most humble peasant food. But this could have been said about any priceless piece of art, poetry, music. In fact, the critic goes on to say, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
And so I found great artists called farmers in a parking lot this morning, pointing my way, with a radish. Now to the garden to pick my greens on which my perfect radish will rest.