In Search of Block Island

IMG_3512The theme for summer reading is all the books “I am suppose to have read”. The classics and the great authors that the world seems to have agreed upon as “obviously you must have read before”. This week I picked up John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. It was my first Steinbeck (I know, I’m a invalid human). But at least now I can say it will definitely not be my last.

The premise of this novel is that Steinbeck (as himself) sets out across America in order to find the country’s voice. He takes his RV and dog and says ‘See ya’ to his life at home. Along the way he just engages with the lives of those he comes in contact. I enjoyed packing my novel for reading in all of Block’s beautiful reading nooks.

I’ll save you the full book report, but I do recommend it. As I read I felt the way of life Steinbeck takes on as similar to the way I have been living here on the island. He really just chats anybody up, and here on the island I feel free to do the same. He wants to figure out what it means to be “an American”. So I asked, what does it mean to be “a Blocker”? Thus far, I have found one possible answer. Everyone here has something in common; we have all found this small little island and know it’s something special. And because of this we all respect and want to be pleasant and enjoy our privilege.

I took my lessons from Steinbeck to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I was sent to the market on assignment (yes, I am that cool) from the paper. The task “Write a colorful piece” which I translated as I can use my “press pass” to score free stuff as along as I write about it. To my editor reading, I was strictly professional, but I did have some hope when I set my eyes upon Pecan sticky buns.

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Rolling up on my moped, I felt like I was in a movie with a cool journalism job, an eco-friendly transportation, and no ring on my finger begging for romantic comedy to come find me. The cameras didn’t show so I got to work.

I had fun getting to introduce myself to strangers while sounding official as I dropped the Block Island Times card, and in Steinbeck nature “getting to hear their voice.” I was impressed with the amount of vendors and products for sale. For a small island, this place is darn crafty. All the merchandise at the market must be made on the island. But the home grown factor does not stop there. Most of those selling live on the island year round and for many food products use ingredients they grow themselves! So not only did one lady wake up THAT MORNING to bake her pies, but she used the rhubarb from her back yard to do so.

Hand carved Block Rocks, sold by a woman and her husband. Stop being so adorable, please.

IMG_3484They do sell some produce, but it’s a little pricey. I’ll stick to my Peapod delivery.
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One young girl’s origami, that puts my card making to shame.IMG_3471

The entire market displayed the type of genuineness and collaborative I have noticed in my island experiences. So with all that softy, gushy stuff aside, the Farmer’s Market is still where you want to be. If you want a great gift to bring home to your favorite grandmother, they have it. If you want a one of a kind jar of island grown pickles, they have it. And if you’re like me, and just want something tasty without having to open your wallet, they samples, just don’t be too obvious.

Being on the island on a Wednesday or Saturday means you need to be at this Farmer’s/Crafter’s/Baker’s market. 9:30-11am, Wednesdays at the Manisses’ and Saturdays at Negus Park.

I will continue to channel Steinbeck’s search on the island and learn about it’s people. A little hobby of anthropology can be likely very entertaining. I’ll get to work.

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What book should I pick up next? What does it mean to be an American to you? Would you rather have a scone or a sticky bun? How many free samples does it take to make one a mooch? 

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