I wake up early and breathe in damp morning air through the open bedroom window. The sun is up, speckling leaves with a cool pale light as I lace up my Addidas for a quiet run. The air has a chilly bite that feels invigorating, but it's obvious that the sun will rapidly heat the earth today. I end my run, breathing deeply and wiping sweat from my eyes. A cup of coffee and a breakfast of fruit and toast occupies the next 30 minutes of my day, perhaps while reading the latest Martha Stewart Living or Better Homes and Gardens. The birds are active, flitting between branches and calling to each other in gorgeous sing-song.
I make a list of items I should look for, things that I think I need, but leave plenty of room for those that I don't know are necessary until I lay eyes on them, at which point it becomes painfully obvious that I couldn't possibly cook without them. Maybe a shining, deep purple eggplant, or a freshly butchered, thickly cut lamb chop. I wash the salty sweat from my face, pull my ponytail through a baseball cap, and grab an empty canvas bag that is begging to be stuffed with fresh groceries. In a moment I'll be off to Findlay Market.
Vibrant colors greet me as I approach the outer stalls of the market. Glistening red tomatos, violet red onion skins, deep green spinach leaves, soft, fuzzy yellow-orange peaches. There is already a noisy bustle about the place as shop owners and street vendors interact with market-goers. Out of habit, I circle the whole market once before deciding what to buy, lingering over the cheese counter for a little too long and taking note of which vendors have the ugliest (read: best tasting) tomatoes. I select a loaf of bread to buy first, knowing that Blue Oven Bakery typically sells out quickly. I'm handed the loaf and I bring it to my face, inhaling deeply and filling my head with the smell of salt and yeast and flour. I think about taking a huge bite then and there, but restrain myself in the interest of appearing normal. I slide the bread into my canvas bag and move down the line, passing stalls that sell honey, woven baskets and bath soaps.
I'm shopping with abandon, inspired by the sights and smells of this city market. There is something magical about a place like Findlay Market, where you buy meat from a butcher, fish from the monger, spices from the spice merchant. These people are intimately familiar with their products and dedicated to their craft. I feel transported to provincial France or the Tuscan hills, where the purpose of life is obvious and simple: community and food. I buy fresh leaves of romaine dewey with water, and deep pink radishes with dirt still clinging to their tiny roots. I buy a whole fish and receive detailed instructions from the vendor on how to prepare it on the grill for tonight's dinner. A giant block of salty feta cheese beckons to me, begging to be crumbled atop my newly acquired bread and topped with the afore mentioned radishes. And then there's the possibility of dessert, maybe some beautiful chocolate truffles served with coffee after dinner? Or some homemade baklava? I mull over the options while sipping on an iced coffee from Maverick Chocolate, newly surprised with every sip at it's deep mocha flavor.
I become acutely aware that I am exceptionally hungry, and realize that it is nearly time for lunch. I call home and take orders for takeout, most of them being for juicy pulled pork sandwiches and spicy jalepeno cornbread from Eli's Barbeque. I decide on something different to satisfy a craving that came about while contemplating the baklava: a salty, crispy dose of shaved lamb meat atop a pillowy pita and doused in cool tzatziki sauce. I order my gyro from Areti's Gyros and get the baklava to go. Before picking up the barbeque, I find an empty cafe table outside (an increasingly difficult thing to do as the market becomes more crowded) and devour my gyro, sipping cautiously from my coffee, trying to ensure I don't run out before I finish my lunch. The sound of a violin being played wafts through the air and is layered on top of the sounds of a person singing and playing the guitar on the opposite side of the market. As I finish my meal, I take a moment to look around and soak in the bustling scene, and smile in appreciation for the small miracles of everyday life. Miracles like a cloudless sky, a freshly baked loaf of bread, and a beautiful market in Cincinnati.
When I think about what my perfect day would be, this would be it (or at least the morning portion). However, this story is fiction, but why? It most certainly doesn't have to be! I have the ability to do all those things on almost any given day during the summer, and yet I never seem to have the time. I think this is the case with a lot of people; we believe we don't have time to live our dream, or be the person we want to be (the best version of ourselves). I'm going to make it more of a priority to live my "perfect day" as often as I can. When I examine my daily habits, there is so much room for improvement. Do I need to spend precious minutes looking at Facebook? Or how about watching the same episode of Love It Or List It over again? Should I have pressed snooze 3 times? I'm all for taking a moment to relax, but I think sometimes I "reward" myself for completing small tasks a little too often. "Oh, I washed the dishes today and paid the bills online. I think I'll take a nap while Netflix plays in the background." As I get older I am realizing that my time is more precious than that.
If anyone is reading this, I encourage you to dream up your own "perfect" day and make an effort to make it real. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant, just one of those days where you fill your time with activities that make your heart feel full.
These pictures were taken at Findlay Market, one of my favorites places here in Cincinnati.