What would you do if someone you’d never met walked up to you and gave you a gift, completely unexpectedly?
I had to face this amazing reality one sunny day after I’d just stumbled into the Queen Anne farmer’s market. The entire experience reinforced in me how magical travel can truly be.
This all happened on day 55 of my West Coast Adventure — an adventure that would last over 150 days. I’d been in Seattle for a few days already, and I was enjoying soaking it in. It reminded me of Portland; but, despite being nicknamed the Emerald City, I was disappointed that there were less trees and greenery mixed in with the urban environment than there were in Portland.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Seattle had its high points, too. And as this series progresses, that will become more obvious. But let’s get to the farmer’s market and the amazing act of kindness that resulted.
Stumbling into Queen Anne
One sunny day in Seattle, while walking to the store, I stumbled right into the Queen Anne farmer’s market. I’d seen the street before; but now it was transformed as a variety of farmer’s booths and food were on display, and it looked delicious.
If you’re not that familiar with Seattle, Queen Anne is a neighborhood in Seattle on the northwest side of the city. The neighborhood is called Queen Anne because it was built on top of Queen Anne hill, which happens to be the highest named hill in the entire city. At a maximum height of 139 meters above sea level, it’s definitely a good neighborhood to walk to if you want to get some good exercise!
The PLUOTS are here! Oh, the Humanity!
Have you ever tried a pluot?
Don’t worry. Despite what it may sound like, it’s not some rare creature from the Amazon jungle. It’s actually a cross between a plum and an apricot; and, speaking from experience, I can say it’s quite delicious. Next to the pluots, another hybrid called peach-cots were also for sale. And if you haven’t cracked the code yet, they were a cross between a peach and an apricot. Free samples of each of these hybrid fruits were on a plate in front of the displays, and both were uniquely delicious.
I recall one of the farmers explaining that these fruits were hybridized by grafting one type of tree branch onto a different type of tree. So in the case of pluots, a plum branch might be grafted onto an apricot tree. The resulting branch will mix the DNA of both the branch and the tree its connected to and produce a hybrid fruit (in this case pluots) from that branch. So it’s kind of like the Frankenstein monster, but with editable produce… and less growling and destruction. (And thankfully, it’s much safer than producing your own hybrid animal monster. And don’t worry: fruits have been being hybridized like this for a long time now.)
The Radical Act of Kindness that floored Me
Across from the strangely delicious hybrid fruits were plethora of flavored salts, ready to be sampled. The jars to a dozen flavors were open, and you could sample each flavor on a piece of bread. The woman behind the table told me that they were a small company that specialized in salt, specifically; and the sign next to the table said “Secret Stash Sea Salts” and boasted that all of the flavored salts’ ingredients were completely natural.
I tried a few of the flavored salts on some bread, and they were quite delicious and savory. Vanilla, Smoked Chipotle, Apple 5-Spice, and Lavender were just a few of the flavors available. I decided that the Lavender flavor was my favorite. But I decided not to buy any since I didn’t feel a pressing need to get salt, and I was feeling thrifty. After all, I still had over 2,000 miles to go before I reached home.
Then out of the blue, as I was walking away, a middle-aged woman I didn’t know handed me a small bottle of Lavender-flavored salt. Apparently, she’d bought it for me. My eyes probably bugged out a bit at that point. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. And I can only assume that she overheard me say I liked the lavender one the most, which is why she chose that one.
As you can imagine, I was floored and thanked her profusely. I’d never been hit with such unexpected generosity and kindness quite like that before. Has anything like this ever happened to you? It was such an amazing experience being part of an unexpected act of kindness like that, and it really highlighted what can happen when you travel with a positive mindset. If being on the receiving end of this unexpected kindness felt so good, I wonder what she felt.
The Plastic Bag Monster Attacks!
The last interesting element I noticed at the farmers market was a scary (but not really) Plastic Bag Monster. Along with an older man, the Plastic Bag Monster was promoting green practices and spreading the word to use less plastic bags. The Monster was really fun to watch because it was a real hit with some of the kids there. As the monster and the man went from booth to booth, it was playfully growling and interacting with the kids. As the Monster would do this, the older man handed out pamphlets and spoke about the importance of reducing the amount of plastic the city throws away, particularly plastic bags. It was fun to watch this interaction, and it’s definitely a creative way to get people’s attention about the plastic bag problem.
A Mere Prelude…
Stumbling into the Queen Anne farmer’s market was one of the best “happy accidents” to happen to me on the entire trip, because on that day I learned that happy accidents can even give you an opportunity to experience a wave of unexpected kindness, if you’re open to it. Receiving a gift from a complete stranger was undoubtedly one of the most surprising things to happen to me in my entire 150+ day journey to the West Coast and back. And my story is just one example of how travel can open you up to a radical act of kindness.
Yet all of this was just a mere prelude to seeing one of my favorite Seattle landmarks: The Chittenden Locks & Botanical Gardens. There I saw salmon using salmon ladders to enter the Puget Sound, was introduced to extremely rare trees, and even stumbled upon an excellent a-cappella group singing Beach Boys songs.
All about those amazing experiences soon…
But can you find Marco?
While you anticipate the story to come, see if you can find Marco in all of the photos from that day. As always, Marco continued to follow me, and he didn’t hide in the shadows this time either, so you can narrow your search to the brighter spots in the photos. (Though I warn you, the last two photos are particularly challenging, and you may want to zoom your screen.)
If you’re new to the “Where’s Marco” game, read this first.
So what are you waiting for?
Head over to the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market album and find Marco! —>
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Photos from this event are in the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market album. All photos in the Byteful Gallery are under a Creative Commons license. With so much free content on Byteful Travel, why not tell a friend?
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