Rumbling thunder and sheets of rain clear the Red Stick Farmer’s Market as Karen makes a bumbling, halfhearted entrance. Sodden patrons dart from tent to tent, determined to scoop the freshest gourds and goat cheese. Vendors entrench themselves into Walmart folding chairs.
Frances Chauvin slowly counts her pies – blueberry, Granny Smith, pumpkin, coconut, cushaw – each sealed in store-brand bags. The 81-year-old turns to restock her dwindling display of shoe soles, crispy cinnamon and sugar-dusted pastries. Business was brisk before the rain.
Chauvin perks up as a woman emerges from the deluge. Without hesitation, she asks for pecan.
“It’s for my momma and daddy,” the woman says as Chauvin bends down for a plastic bag. The customer describes how she makes every meal for her 86 and 87-year-old parents.
“I just like to surprise them every once in a while,” she says. “They were so good to me, and my momma really misses cooking.”
Her eyes seem moist. It could be the rain.
Drops of water from the tent ceiling distract Chauvin. Her pies are in danger.
A neighbor uses a bamboo pole to push the pockets of water over the edge of the tent, creating temporary waterfalls. Before Chauvin can ask for help, he walks over.
She gives him a thank you shoe sole.
The rain slacks as a middle-aged man toting a toddler walks up to Chauvin. She smiles and hands him a pre-bagged pie.
“He comes every weekend, pushing his father in a wheelchair,” Chauvin says quietly. “He lets his father pick out a pie and I hold it for them while they eat breakfast. His father has Alzheimer’s and would eat it right away otherwise.”
The pair walks off into the rain, the little boy stopping to step in each puddle.