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Always room for another jar of red pepper jelly

Attraction of farmers' market too much to pass up

I found another one last weekend. The husband and I were out of town at a friend's getaway home, and we spotted the sign on the highway.

"Farmers' Market," it said. "This Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Town Square."

"Did you see that?" I said. "There's a farmers' market here on Saturday! And we'll be here on Saturday!"

The husband shook his head.

"No," he said. "I'm pretty sure it said next Saturday.

In fact, I'm pretty sure it said next Saturday next year."

The husband knew what it said, all right. But the husband, I must point out, does not share my passion for farmers' markets - and yes, I would call it a passion.

The ideal human existence, in my opinion, would consist, not of a job, but of four-hour-a-day visits to farmers' markets, followed by naps and al fresco suppers consumed on picnic tables somewhere - punctuated only, of course, by the occasional visit to a theatre to see a matinee featuring Harrison Ford.

Talk about bliss. "We HAVE to go!" I told the husband. "This is the first one of the season!"

And so, we went. And yes, I found all those little items that make farmers' markets so special: jars of rhubarb chutney and corn relish and red pepper jelly and strawberry/blueberry jam and roast garlic and onion spread.

"Don't we already have some of this stuff at home?" asked the husband, racing to keep up with me as I sped from one lovely little stand to another.

He had a point. It was true that I did, in fact, have another jar of red pepper jelly that I had picked up at another farmers' market. It was true, in fact, I had a jar of red pepper jelly for each of the 40-odd farmers' markets I had visited in the last two years alone.

Still, I argued, one needs red pepper jelly to dish out with things like ham and halibut. One needs red pepper jelly to accompany cream cheese and cracker appetizers. One needs red pepper jelly to offer to friends as hostess gifts.

One needs jars of red pepper jelly because, oh, they look so pretty in the pantry.

We made our way around the market in the town square, picking up produce and munching on kabobs and pausing to listen to a wandering balladeer.

"Isn't this THE BEST?" I asked the husband.

He nodded, and smiled. On this day, an ideal day, he was happy after all. Yes, there was a farmers' market. But there would also be a nap.