Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hollywood Farmer’s Market by Bike

Saturday we slept in, and by the time we got to the market at around nine, the number of places to lock our bikes to had shrunk to one stop sign. As we walked through the market entrance, a yellow-aproned volunteer gestured helpfully toward a fleet of slightly rusty little red wagons. We declined, sensing danger: the space in one red wagon is greater than the space on two bicycles.

The market was hopping as usual -- full of color, and the sounds of music, English, Spanish, and Russian. Kids having fun with the balloon man, the face painter, whatever. It’s a party. Different every week.

And to the child-encumbered -- I know what you're thinking: Do I have children? None that I know of. So what good am I to someone needing to know about biking with kids? Not much.
I can't know everything. But do post tips of your own if you have any. And I promise to tell you anything I find out. For one thing, there's those drag-behind carts. Surely you've seen them. Though they look very sturdy, I for one would hesitate to trail a child behind me on all but the most deserted streets. Besides the car danger, I’d worry about the kid inhaling car exhaust. But you tell me. Together, we will find a way.

Back at the market: It’s easy to over buy because everything looks so good, but we control ourselves. Twenty three dollars later we have more than enough produce for two for a week, plus coffee and a couple of rolls. Cost of gas: zero. Cost of oil: zero. Cost of parking: zero. Wear & tear on the car: zero.

Piling everything onto our bikes is always a trick. We're equipped with one basket each. A simple decision to carry our jackets instead of wear them further complicates the logistics – not to mention an impulsive stop at the library on the way home. Do you leave stuff on your bike and hope no one steals it, or do you schlep everything inside with you for a five minute errand? We locked the bikes, left it all out there, and ran in. I rapidly checked out Nicholson Baker’s book, A Box of Matches, which I’ve been wanting to read ever since Lindi read parts of it to me some time last year. (Lindi’s my partner, but I’ve changed her name to protect her from unwanted fame.) After more arranging, to make space for the book, we were on our way.

OK, so maybe it’s not easier than throwing stuff into a car. But it’s definitely funner. Sometimes I pretend my bike is a little burro and I'm about to trudge home on little dirt paths in a remote tropical area undiscovered by cars. I wonder if this'll work in November.


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