Thursday, August 30, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 8/31/12

Okra - learn to Creole it on Tuesday!

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks seeing some of the great cities of central Europe and a lot of its countryside as well. I saw some pretty spectacular things and met some lovely people, but as always, it is good to be home.

Within 12 hours of being home, I was reminded that Webb City is a very good place indeed to live. I was speaking to one of my farmers on the phone Thursday morning when I heard a thump. I abruptly said “Gotta go, bye.” I knew it had to be my mother taking a tumble while she watered plants. Indeed I found her on the floor in the reception room next to my office. She was struggling to sit up, holding her left hand. I’d no sooner helped her into a sitting position when in walked Jackie Clark and two other Webb City firemen, Doug Moore and Scott Pink. My first thought was that they were making their annual inspection of commercial property, but no, they were just driving by and Doug had seen Mother fall inside the office. Now that’s paying attention. Doug, who is a paramedic, gave Mother a quick going-over. Then he and Scott helped her into a chair. Meanwhile Jackie had called the ambulance. Did you know that the ambulance crew will come and evaluate the situation and if they don’t take you anywhere there is no charge?

After an evaluation, the paramedics recommended I take Mother to Urgent Care and have the hand x-rayed just in case there was a fracture.

So three happy things – no fracture was revealed by the x-ray and Mother will be fine, our Webb City firemen are wonderful and if you think you have a health emergency, in Webb City you can call the ambulance service for a professional evaluation without worrying about wasting your money. If you end up spending money taking the ambulance, it was well-spent on a potentially life-threatening emergency.

By the way, another thing Webb City has over central Europe is that our city has not been destroyed by wars over and over again. The palace at Budapest had been destroyed 86 times in the last 1,000 years. That’s about once every two or three generations. Well, OK - I'm math challenged - it's probably more like once in every four or five generations. Still I expect most generations experienced the destruction and/or the reconstruction.

And there’s also language. I was told by a Hungarian that their language was one of the most beautiful languages in the world and that it was a shame only 15 million people spoke it. About a billion people speak English, so we can talk to a lot more people – which is lucky for us because we Americans usually only speak English. Unlike us, about half of those billion people who speak English learned it as a second language.

In addition to your produce, you could pick up some language skills at the market. Many of our Hmong farmers speak not only Hmong and some English, but also Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian and French. In fact, one family speaks primarily in French. When I first visited the farm of the Yang family several years ago, their teenage son served as translator as we went through the fields. It slowly dawned on me that I could understand some of the conversation between mother and son. No, I had not miraculously learned Hmong, they were speaking in French. In fact, the son is French, having been born in France where the family lived prior to coming to the United States. Ma Yang and her husband Tang are very kind to let me practice my high school French on them whenever we’re at the market. I long ago forgot everything I knew about French verb tenses so I must sound atrocious, but they encourage me.

Since I am blessed with a French daughter-in-law I have picked up a few French phrases that Emmanuelle often uses with my granddaughter Madeleine, but I’m not sure how useful “walk, walk!”, “open your mouth” and “don’t spit” are going to be in other settings. The Yangs are helping me expand to “Good day”, “how are you?” and “is that zucchini?”.

It should be a good morning or bon jour today at the market. In previous years, the forecast of rain could mean a very slow market day, but I am confident that our vendors and customers will come out in force and rejoice in the rain. Granny Shaffer’s at the Market is serving ham, scalloped potatoes, a veggie side, peach crisp and a drink for $6. The Loose Notes are playing. Today is the last day for Lady Abigail’s Bakery. Abigail has taken on a full time job elsewhere. Hazel’s Bakery will be adding Tuesdays and Fridays to their Saturday schedule starting September 11th.

Tomorrow, the Webb City Choir Boosters are serving breakfast from 9 to 11. Center Creek Bluegrass is playing.

On Tuesday, Bill Adkins is slated to play, but he’s under the weather, so watch our facebook page in case that changes. Granny Shaffer’s at the Market will have hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches and chef salad. Tom Rhodes will be our only baker, so if you want baked sweets, load up today and tomorrow. Carolyn Smith will be at our good-for-you cooking demonstration table with Creole Okra.

Next Saturday is our annual Arts in the Park day so we’re pulling out all the stops with three musical groups – at 9 am, Rob and Drew Pommert play, at 10 the Suzuki String Academy plays and at 11 Heartland Opera brings family friendly versions of songs from their Hot Scandals show playing next Friday and Saturday night at the Route 66 Civic Center.

See you at the market!