Fresh is how to describe a farmers' market. Vegetables and flowers are picked just hours before. Sweet corn is at its flavorful peak. The scents of onions and green beans fill the air.
Nothing is flavored better than food direct from the farm.
The Westminster City Farmers' Market opens Saturday in the Sherwood Square parking lot, off Railroad Avenue across from the old distillery. Umbrellas open over the stands between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and close at noon. At this new market, you'll find many members of the former Hampstead and North Carroll farmers' markets.
"We'll have sweet corn, onions, green beans, squash, cut flowers, dried flowers, herbs and melons as they come in. In the fall, you can expect pumpkins and Indian corn," said Dick Weaver, the agriculture education teacher at North Carroll High and owner of Hickory Hollow Farms near Finksburg.
Several other vendors hail from North Carroll.
You'll remember the vegetables, cut flowers, bedding plants and herbs, both potted and fresh-cut, from the Herman Jackson Farm of Millers.
Martin's Orchards of Lineboro will arrive with fruit and vegetables.
The folks at Sunswept Meadows Dried Flowers and Herbs of Millers help you preserve summer's finest. They'll sell flowers and herbs, both dried and fresh, and they've put them to decorative use in wreaths, swags and potpourri.
Potted and cut herbs, plus berries in season, all grown chemical-free, will be sold by Galloping Goose Farm of Hampstead. They'll also take orders for freezer lamb.
Thorne Farm of Westminster will sell organically grown vegetables, raspberries and grapes (in season), as well as raw wool and hand-spun yarn from its sheep. Drop by J & J Acres of New Windsor for homemade jelly and jams plus vegetables, and more vegetables and fruit by Liberty View Farms of Westminster.
Certificates from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program are accepted in payment for fresh produce at the market.
Other farmers' markets in Carroll County include the South Carroll Farmer's Market on Hemlock Lane in Eldersburg (across from the library), which opens Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Carroll County Farmer's Market at the Ag Center in Westminster, open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Information: 848-9002, 848-4611.
A jewel of the insect order Lepidoptera visited here not long ago. Filling my two hands held side to side, it looked like a Japanese kite, with wings of frosted lime fluttering from a fat, woolly white torso. It was a luna moth.
Among the members of the emperor and silk moth family Saturniidae, this one has been acclaimed as America's most beautiful.
Our neighbor rescued the moth from her screen door. Somehow this night flier had been blown there during an exceptionally windy day.
To find a luna moth is to enter a passionate love story.
Only male luna moths have densely feathered brown antennae like this one. Somewhere, even three miles away, a female luna moth was calling. She had emerged from metamorphosis to immediately release pheromones, or scented molecules, her love note upon the winds. She would neither eat nor fly while awaiting the arrival of male moths.
The male moth has but a week to complete the tryst before his death. The power of pheromones, the moth's molecule-sized valentine, is well documented. Into one French scientist's study there once fluttered several dozen amorous males within hours of the emergence of one female. The male's elaborately branched antennae tune in to female luna pheromones, tuning out hundreds of similar wind-born love messages aloft on summer nights.
Unlike the brightly painted show of monarchs and swallowtails, the luna's eerie green wings, each about 4 inches by 6 inches, are a daytime cloak. There is no dizzy flower surfing for the luna moth, which cannot eat. Exposed in daylight, this moth chose to hide in our dogwood tree.
It used a subtle camouflage. The color and shape of the wings imitated the drooping twisted leaves of the dogwood. A band of gray color traced the upper edge of each wing. From the band descended two gray and translucent eyespots, looking exactly like leaf buds on stems. From a foot away, the luna moth was invisible.
The eyespots are thought to distract birds away from the moth's abdomen and provide a narrow chance of escape.
On the other side of the Earth, the luna moth's relative, the Hercules moth, flies upon a wing span of 14 inches through the tropical rain forests of New Guinea and Australia.
In Japan, the luna's unfortunate cousin, the silk moth, spins the fibrous cocoons to be harvested as they have been for 4,500 years. Enslaved since antiquity, the silk moth now cannot survive in the wild. This dependency led to an advance in human health care. In 1837, investigation of an illness in silkworms by an Italian biologist led to the germ theory of disease.
Barely the first star could be seen that evening when we followed the eye of our flashlights to seek our luna moth in the dark. But our visitor was already aloft, following the scent of moth love. Only lime-green leaves fluttered in our view.
When does munching a cookie help someone? When that cookie is combined with dozen upon dozen of brownies, cupcakes, doughnuts, breads, chocolate lollipops.
That was the bake sale by Families of SMA, Chesapeake Chapter, during the Robert's Field Homeowners annual yard sale in June. The chapter was formed to increase awareness and help fund research, therapeutic programs and needs of those affected by spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that caused the death of infant Erin Marie Trainor of Hampstead. SMA affects one in 20,000 children.
That day in June, the chapter sold enough donated baked goods to net $730. Besides neighbors and friends, area merchants donated to the bake sale.
Information about SMA: 239-9415.