Another year older (almost)

The Baumer family meets up in Providence, RI

The Baumer family meets up in Providence, RI

One year ago, I was in New York City celebrating my 50th birthday, a surprise getaway weekend arranged by Mary. This year it was less about Broadway and Times Square, and more about local foods, farmers’ markets, books (of course) and time spent hanging out with our son. We were headed south to another urban environment, but this time the destination was Providence, Rhode Island.

Parenting might be one of life’s hardest tasks. We step into the role with little to prepare for it other than our own parents’ example. We usually vow to be better, and most of us are determined to put our own stamp on the process. Somehow we manage to get our kids to adulthood, or maybe they get there despite our efforts.

The day we carry that tiny, helpless bundle home from the hospital, we begin taking steps towards the inevitable day that they’ll be leaving the nest and flying away. It’s a tough balancing act, which again, makes parenting unique and difficult.

As parents, it’s validating when our grown children want to come home. Mark has been coming back and visiting us ever since he first established his own place away from home.

When he was living in Boston after graduating from Wheaton, he still owned a car and periodically drove back to Maine to see us, usually for extended family gatherings over the holidays. Later, when in Los Angeles, it was tougher for him to make it back and we visited instead.

Having him back on the east coast three hours away is a gift. Now he tends to ride the bus or even the train when journeying northward. He hasn’t owned a car since 2007.

We’ve visited him a few times in Providence. We both love the city and whenever Mary and I spend a weekend there, we try to experience as much of it as time allows, learning a bit more each junket.

This weekend was another treat for a number of reasons, maybe the biggest one being that Mary and I got to have so much of Mark’s time. It wasn’t forced, but offered willingly and as a result, we really had fun together.

Dinner Friday night at Nick’s on Broadway was awesome. Technically, my birthday isn’t until next week on Wednesday, but this was our weekend to celebrate and Mark’s choice of a restaurant was perfect. A great local food find that sources its food from area farmers. Mark took care of the details and we also got to spend time with his girlfriend, Shirin.

Friday night dinner at Nick's on Broadway in Providence.

Friday night dinner at Nick’s on Broadway in Providence.

Saturday, Mark wanted us to see the farmers’ market he visits every Saturday, in Pawtucket. I don’t know about you, but the first thing that I think of when I think of Pawtucket is post-industrial, not farmers’ market.

The Pawtucket Winter Farmers’ Market is an amazing one, taking place in a wonderful old mill that now houses the Hope Artiste Village. With over 50 different farms represented and a bevy of other vendors, foods galore, and even an old timey band playing all kinds of old-time standards, this was the perfect follow-up to a perfect birthday dinner the night before.

Some of the farmers are the same ones that came to Brown for a midweek farmers’ market where Mark bought a CSA share this past summer, lugging it home with him on the bus. Over time, he’s begun to shop less at the large corporate chains and now makes this a regular Saturday destination, just like Mary does in Maine, when she spends her Saturday mornings scouting for local greens, root vegetables, and locally-produced meat.

The Pawtucket Winter Farmers' Market, Saturday morning.

The Pawtucket Winter Farmers’ Market, Saturday morning.

Mary flexin' with some super kohlrabi.

Mary flexin’ with some super kohlrabi.

We marveled that Mark often walks four miles to this market, or better, runs/jogs to the market and back home, with his backpack. He’s happy to do so if it means no car, and having a smaller carbon footprint. Oh, and he loves bringing his own glass jars, and returning each week for another refill.

No one enjoys being one year older, but since I haven’t found a way to stop or even slow the process, celebrating it with the ones you love is the best way to soften the blow.

Mark and Mary upon our arrival at the Hilton.

Mark and Mary upon our arrival at the Hilton.

2 thoughts on “Another year older (almost)

  1. I’ve never seen lime-green complement someone, but it goes quite well with Mary and her latest hair, especially in that lighting.

    Where’s the farmer’s market going to be on the north side of the Androscoggin?

  2. The lighting in the lobby of the Hilton was interesting and I’m glad I snapped this photo.

    Providence this weekend was very interesting, in light of a number of conversations about post-peak oil living, the need for infrastructure, pulling back from the exurbs, etc.

    Really impressed by the Pawtucket Winter Farmers’ Market and the efforts by the Hope Artiste Village to reclaim former manufacturing space in this old mill. There is a vibrant local farming community rimming Providence, especially to the west of the city. Also, a number of urban gardens and urban gardeners. Lots of old warehouse space, which helps provide infrastructure necessary for a local food hub (storage and distro).

    Intrigued with some of the conversations I had with members of a local food co-op called The Fertile Underground.

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