4 am is like the middle of the night for me. It’s a horrendous time to have to wake up, especially when you’ve only had three hours sleep.
This is often the time we have to get up to travel to markets to sell our wares.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself or wanting you to feel sorry for me…well, hang on, yes I am!
I want people to know how damned HARD people like us work to supply you an entertaining couple of hours strolling through a busy Sunday marketplace, casually feasting your eyes on the colourful, quirky and clever creations that we handmade market stallholders pour our blood sweat and tears into.
I’m sad to say that “handmade” is a dying art these days, and markets are looking more and more like cheap dollar stores, what with all the made in China stuff that people are flogging.
I think it’s all got to do with the throwaway mentality of society these days where nothing much is truly valued or cared for because most everything is so easily replaceable.
Plastic wrapped, cheap and discard-able.
It brings to my mind the scenario, in days long gone by, where an old man owns a wooden comb for his hair. He treasures this comb, keeps it safely in his pocket, alongside his neatly folded handkerchief, when he’s out, and when he returns home he always places it in the same spot on his bureau so he won’t lose it, because he is from an era when something as simple as a wooden hair comb has value, and sentiment, and he can’t afford to buy another.
Today these hair combs are made from plastic, are cheap as chips and if you cast your eyes downward you’ll see them lying in the gutter, abandoned and unappreciated. That’s if people even comb their hair anymore. Perhaps they just shave it all off these days?
Every time I see a plastic comb lying on the ground I think of this old man and his treasured wooden comb and it makes me sad, even though I have totally made him up in my own head.
So we set off yesterday at that ungodly hour of the morning to travel for an hour to get to a new market that we’ve hadn’t ever had a stall at before.
I love that time of the morning, before the sun rises, because it reminds me of when we leave for our outback trips – when I pack egg and mayonnaise sandwiches for the kids and I to eat for breakfast, because we know it brings cries of “Oh my God, that smell is disgusting! Do you HAVE to eat those in the car?” from my husband.
We do it just to torture him. It’s tradition. After all, we have to put up with the smell of his farts in the car – when he locks all the windows and laughs hysterically at his own very immature antics.
We saw lightning in the distance as we set off, not good. The sky was filled with gloomy looking dark clouds and both my husband and I wondered out loud how the day would go. Would it be a disaster, would we be rained out? Would there even be people there?
We used to consult the “crystal ball” each time before we went to a market.
It was kept in the car, down by my feet – a child’s pink plastic toy ball thing that when you shook it, a few words of wisdom would appear saying things like. “Things are looking favourable”….or “Yes I think so”….or “It’s not meant to be.” Some such rubbish, but we took it very seriously, this crystal ball gazing, and never failed to consult it. (It was never wrong!)
Unfortunately, somehow the crystal ball went astray -one of the children must have done some ball napping. Very disappointing, because we relied on it so heavily.
Eventually we arrived at the market and the gate keeper market staff were extremely friendly and said they had put us in a really good spot!
We were next to the chicken people (birds,ducks,chooks,rats and rabbits) and the Swamp people.
Have you ever watched the show “Swamp people?”. It’s intriguing.
These people in the deep south (or somewhere) in America who live and work on the “Bayou” catching alligators.
I don’t know why we watch it because I hate it when people kill animals, but these Swamp people are SO interesting. Such characters and they have a real funny accent, missing teeth, and all they wear are demin overalls, with nothing underneath.
The way they say “log” makes us crack up and we sit there trying to copy the accent. “Over thare…no, it’s jest a laaaawg Bubbah. Aint no gator thare.”
(I’m sorry…if you are a swamp person reading this, we really do love you. We probably talk funny too – but we wear T shirts under our overalls. We like the “Moonshiners” as well, for similar reasons.)
Anyway, so next to us we had the Aussie version of the Swamp people , selling mango’s and cherries. The whole family. Ma , Pa and siblings, swearing like troopers at each other (whenever customers weren’t in earshot), chain smoking, talking funny and loudly verbally hawking their goods to the passing crowds.
It was entertaining to say the least.
We had such a good day! At last, a huge busy market with customers who really did seem interested in our handmade candles. Lots of sniffing, lots of conversation, and some tentative buying to try us out.
We know the ropes. We’re new on the scene so they buy small, but we have confidence-they will be back. We’re having to completely re-establish ourselves in this new area.
I really do enjoy chatting with customers. They are funny, quirky and interesting. Each with stories of their own to tell.
Human interaction – person to person stuff. Love it!
I met a man who used to live in the exact suburb in the Blue Mountains that we just moved from, and chatted with a woman who’s son lives in the same tiny town in the middle of the outback where our eldest daughter lives!
The weather held off, we sold enough candles to make it worthwhile and to boost our confidence that this will be a good regular market for us to attend, ate big dripping egg and bacon rolls for breakfast, and I even managed to get some Christmas shopping done.
There is a camaraderie among market stall holders.
It’s an unspoken thing that goes beyond giving a discount to your fellow stall holder.
We all share that excited expectation first thing in the morning, after our stalls are set up and we wait patiently over steaming hot cups of coffee, for the first dribble of customers to arrive.
We’ve all woken up at ungodly hours, and traveled miles with cars and trucks jam packed full of product.
Looking over at all the tops of the colourful peaked Gazebo’s I was filled with a sense of belonging yesterday, among these people who work hard at what they do, especially the hand made artisians.
Hand made, hand grown, hand baked….
We’re a tribe. A mixed bunch of weird and wonderful people who sacrifice every weekend, and much of their working week too, to prepare for these gatherings.
I can’t begin to tell you how much thought, planning, and agonizing goes into not just making our product, but the labeling, packaging, presentation…I’m sure it’s exactly the same for most of us who truly believe in making quality hand made items. More than just a job.
When the last of the packing up was done, and trucks and cars began slowly moving out of the market place…as the dusty streets grew quiet and still, it reminded me of a forgotten world when colourful caravans full of gypsy folk moved from town to town selling their wares….with REAL crystal balls.
Maybe among that lot there was an old man, with a wooden comb carefully placed next to that folded handkerchief in his trouser pocket.
Oh, and the mango’s from the Swamp people were MAGNIFICENT!
Pure sunshine wrapped in plump golden skins…to die for.