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Saturday’s market began as a quiet, misty morning. Following many days of rain, the variation was agreeable. Being Mother’s Day weekend, I took many pies and buckets of fragrant peonies, conditioned all week-long for prime time.

Early sales were unremarkable and I was beginning to fret. Then a high school friend of my older sister and trusted real estate broker in this area arrived to collect the KLpie and peonies I reserved for her as a gift. After battling breast cancer, endless chemo, and reconstruction in the past three years, her cancer has returned with a vengeance and she told me in a phone conversation that she is terminal. This morning her walk was strong, her eyes bright, and she greeted me with a warm hug and a joke about the side effects of medical marijuana. That was an emotional visit. She is the mainstay of her large family and will be greatly missed by family, young grandchildren who will never know her sense of humor, and all who know her.

Later I noticed a couple who I recognized from television. I have never seen them at market before. They were the parents of a Virginia Tech student who was brutally murdered after a UVA concert in 2009. When the remains were finally discovered in a field south of town, the family had closure, yet the mother has never stopped petitioning for her foundation Save the Next Girl. Today the mother was dressed head to toe in black and looked so profoundly sad. When they passed me for the second time, I reached for my clippers and trimmed a few of my prettiest peonies and caught up to her. Not knowing what I would say, all that came out was, “we have never met…” and I choked up, gave her a hug and walked away, but not before she said, “God bless you.”

Returning to my booth with tears in my eyes, I quickly spotted the owner of the restaurant where I sell my KLpies. He was with his new wife and their one month old daughter, who slept snugly at her breast. He is a big fan of my pimento cheese and came for another tub. Why he did not spring for a sleeve of my beautiful peonies, I do not know. After they walked off, I grabbed another bunch of my peonies and caught up with them. She was delighted and he seemed touched too.

Back at my booth again, a three generation family arrived asking details about my KLpie. Following my spiel and their purchase, I noticed the rather frail elder in the group was clearly disengaged. I pulled out a pretty single flower and walked to her and said, “happy mother’s day!” Her face lit up, she nearly blushed, and the entire family grinned from ear to ear.

I ended this day of intense sales of pies and peonies at noon. In fact, when I later counted my till, this was the largest grossing day in my entire seventeen years at City Market! And I cannot remember a more emotional one.

Simple gestures reap great rewards and today I was reminded of this rule. I recuperate with a warm heart and hope that my gardening and kitchen efforts made a small difference in the lives of those who I encountered.

I am blessed to know health, the simplicity of routine choices, and delight in greeting the wild birds who have sanctuary in my gardens.

The Best Key Lime Pie on the Planet 2009

2015 Peony city market May

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