Blue and white sun canopies lined the perimeter of the Peach Street JC Penney parking lot one spring morning.
“Get ‘yer greens! I got Arugula, Romaine and Spinach.” Mr. Petersen flapped his worn Peterbilt hat in the direction of a few lookers, “t’aint gonna find none fresher, folks.”
“Bah!” Mr. Snyder at the canopy next door waved his hands in front of his nose and pulled a face. “Noone’s interested in your swamp grass, Bill.” The lookers hurried away and Mr. Petersen pinched his eyes in his rival’s direction; snapping his hat down on top of pepper-grey wisps of hair.
Nearby, a faded wooden cornucopia sat propped in the back bed of a rusted pickup. Letters in gold paint advertised the Wisconsin Rapids Farmer’s Market. By noon, a bustling crowd had begun to gather.
“Excuse me, do you have any strawberries?” A lovely woman leaned across Mr. Snyder’s table. He cleared his throat, buttoned his cardigan and made to come round but found his way blocked by the sudden appearance of several large plastic crates. A graveled voice caught his attention and he looked up just in time to watch Mr. Petersen escort the woman to his own table.
“I got just the thing over here, ma’am.” Mr. Petersen’s smug backside brought a color of heat to Mr. Snyder’s face and he tugged at the cuffs of his sweater with a huff.
As baskets filled with crisp veggies the market began to wind down. The crowd thinned. One small family made their way towards the vegetable growers.
The mother brushed a bit of hair from her daughter’s forehead and the father galloped with another toddler on his shoulders. Their infections laughter drifted ahead of them.
Mr. Snyder peered over at Mr. Petersen, straightened his shoulders and set his jaw. Mr. Petersen took a bold step to the front of his booth and Mr. Snyder hurried to match him. The young family drew close.
As they reached the booth, the mother leaned in and gave Mr. Petersen a warm embrace. The father put an arm around the shoulder of Mr. Snyder.
“How’s it going dad?” They asked together.