Outdoor Market

02. Nature is Healing

August 2021

Nature is Healing

Thursday Farmer's Market

“Nature is healing!” is a line inspiring reflections on Twitter as people share their experiences - the mundane and the baffling - of post-pandemic emergence. One of those it’s-funny-because-it’s-true lines, we’re beginning to see trickles of The Before present itself: the tables and chairs are back by the fountain; kids are running through the fountain with glee; the bus has more than six people on it at any given time; and the Thursday Farmers Market is back in Market Square.

 

I smile fondly at the lunchers and the kids scattered around PPG Plaza’s fountain as I cut my way over Third and Fourth Avenues, the sound of the band increasing as I near Market Square proper. Colored tents scattered throughout, my eyes are drawn to the half-a-block-long white one at the corner: Little Athens is back! The smells of the Greek smorgasbord reach me as I make my way, the singer’s voice in my ear as I get in line, my own internal voice excitedly repeating: spanikopita! Spanikopita! I make jokes with the gentleman behind me - “I didn’t see the mac and cheese in time!” I lament as he laughs, fully understanding my dilemma. I point out the cheesecake in a waffle cone and he tells me to stop, he only has twenty bucks. 

 

I take in the bright blooming flowers at the green tent, note the street corn salad for $5 at the blue one (maybe next week?), I drop a few ones in the tip jar as I pay and make my way back to the office. The sun is shining and it is Pittsburgh summer hot - that is to say, heavy and humid - but I’m smiling, swinging my bag of goodies. Nature is healing, indeed.  

Deja Vu

 

I read an article about the Lake of the Ozarks and the population’s pure disregard for COVID, screenshotting the more egregious sections. A man claims that the arms of those who received vaccines beep when a scanner is waved at them; pressured for the facts to back up this claim, he responds, “I can’t give away all my secrets, baby.” I send it to a friend, questioning my sanity as I swore I read the same article last year, deep in quarantine and overwhelmed hospitals. A quick Google search confirms: yup, in May of 2020, people were flocking to the same location without a face covering or six feet of distance in sight. 

 

We hear more about the Delta variant, of hospitals quickly reaching capacity, of schools beginning to consider their own reinforcements in the wake of this uptick. I walk through Market Square on my way to the bus stop, looking at the Wednesday evening yoga class scattered across the pavement, and I think about tomorrow’s market. Will it be our last? I thought we were healing.