Friday, September 5, 2014

woodstock, IL & its farmers market {favorite finds friday}

Did you see the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?  That quirky tale of a grumpy, arrogant television weatherman who becomes trapped in a recurrent reality.  If so you will have some reference for today's find.  Although the true reality that dwells in this wonderful town is far from the fantastical and sometimes obnoxious one played out by Murray in his 1990s rendition of Phil Connors.  Woodstock, Illinois not Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania; the true home of the infamous groundhog report; is location that hosted the movies' filming. 

When I first visited Woodstock five years ago I was intrigued by the connection, curious and captivated at the same time.  But my infatuation with this place soon transferred from cinema to reality and to history. As I began to return time and again. 

Main Street Woodstock about 1910

The community has historic roots, first calling itself Centerville to attract the designation of county seat of McHenry County, which it achieved in 1843.  In 1855 the railway arrived, establishing a direct connection to the bustling city of Chicago, fifty-five miles to the southeast.  Woodstock's central feature is its historic city square, which was primarily constructed in the 1890s.  In 2007 it was named one of the nation's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

So yes, the history nerd in me loves this!  A preserved historic square that offers unique shopping, yoga classes, green space, an art gallery and a vegetarian walk-up restaurant.  But my favorite is the farmers market.

The real arrival of spring is marked for me by the opening of the Woodstock Farmers Market.  Its coming is the reassurance that the world is growing again, and that we can begin to venture out.  A signal that the season of hibernation has finally come to an end. 

The market opens with the modest offerings of the early season.  But they are ever so beautiful to behold.  Booths of growers and food venders are set up around the perimeter of the park that stands at the center of the square.  Inside the park, crafters, soap makers and often flower purveyors stand around a gazebo hosting musicians.  A few chairs are set up, benches line the walkways; but in large part people sit on the grass; in the shade or in the sun depending on the strength of the season.

Our journey to the market is about twenty-five minutes.  A route that traverses a truly lovely rural landscape.  I look forward to this drive almost as much as I do the experience of the market.  In the spring the land is just budding, the fields are being tilled and the trees are sprouting.  As spring progresses into summer this land is awash in the abundance of growth.  As autumn arrives the landscape changes again, the fields are harvested and green transforms into a brilliant display of yellow and orange. 

The market too transforms in reflection of the seasons.  The growing season is ushered in by sweet tiny sprouts that will provide this years bounty. 

Ready for the table in early season are asparagus and greens then will come the squash and tomatoes.  The apples and potatoes follow suit, and oh the garlic!  There are seeds for storing and herbs for drying. 

A visit to the Woodstock Farmers Market is a holistic experience; nourishment in history and community in the grass.  It is a place people go for the opportunity to walk a little slower in an atmosphere that encourages connection. 

It is one of my seasonal pilgrimages.  A way to mark and experience the growth, flowering and recession of our Midwest lifestyle. 

With gratitude,

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