So (as Pattie would say!) I had a stall at the Cygnet market today, for the first time. I forgot my camera so you'll just have to read my words and use your imagination.....
A big, friendly, old hall full of nice wooden trestles, tables, boxes, cake stands and electrical appliances.... a narrow, blustery lane outside filled with open vehicles, the odd dog, people in coats shuffling back and forth to the hall with stuff to sell.... gorgeous aprons, pork pies, cakes, herbs, vegetables, fruit, plants, freshly dug potatoes, tulip bulbs, art works, herb teas, hand-made soaps, jams and pickles, wooden bowls and dibbers, organic dry goods, books, ho mi's and everything in between.... the heater is on and I am glad it is an indoor market!
I am the new kid on the block and other stall holders come over to say hello, once they have their own ready to go.... everyone is friendly and interesting.... there are accents from the whole world of traders; some like me, very new to this game... trade begins between the stall holders before the market is open and I have already swapped a jar of my apricot jam for a tomato jam, the likes of which I have never had before .... and I have 10 large tulip bulbs for a bag of my pasta ..... and I have a baguette and a loaf of 5 seed bread for some post cards and some seedlings.
It is amazing how exciting it is to swap stuff, without money changing hands. I will treasure those things much more and remember the day I got them, simply because I did not use money, but instead formed a bond with the growers / makers. And it works in other ways too.... my stall was not just my own goods; I had already swapped and bartered my way through cloth bags, kilograms of fresh hazelnuts, 20 packets of parsnip seeds, 4 jars of honey and paper bags of plums in the days leading up to the market. One end of my trestle was shared with Rod, who turns amazing bowls and dibbers from Tasmanian wood, and in front of the trestle were boxes of produce from the community garden, collected and carried in by Mary and Laura who kindly stayed on and helped make the day not so stressful for me!
The customers were a mix of friends, acquaintances and unknowns but everyone had a smile and time for a chat.... some had far too much chatting to do but the skill of a stallholder, I am learning, is to be therapist, advisor and friendly face while, at the same time, selling your wares in a timely manner so you can move on to the next face and not lose anyone by not acknowledging them.
The regular stallholders said it was a slow day, but it sure was busy enough for me! I only had time to nip over to the pork-pie stall just before they sold out, to get a bite for lunch and apart from that I hardly left the 3 metres of trestle. Luckily, though, Rod's daughter Amy who was at the market selling husband Cam's wonderful breads, came up to me at one point and asked if I'd like a coffee from The Lotus Eaters Cafe.... and do you think I'd say no to the best coffee in town?? Oh, that reminds me, they said they'd like some more of my tarragon next week.... and for that I will get a free coffee and hopefully an eccles cake too.
This is a very different life to living in Adelaide. Barter and swap is everything here. The people form the core of the economy, not the money. I have been here now just a year and already I feel like I am one of those people....