Amblin' Alameda: Saturday morning

Amblin' Alameda: Saturday morning

Morton Chalfy

Saturday mornings are special in Alameda as they are one of two farmer's market days (the other is Tuesday). This Saturday morning was a double-header in our household as we were to use the morning to shop for stone fruit (summer's yummy) and then visit the health club for some gentle exercise.

The farmer's market is always a colorful mix of clearly hard-working farm families and their produce, some specialty food makers like the hummus people and the cheese crafters, the organic eggs people and the bakers - and then, the rest of us. The rest of us include intense shoppers, strolling shoppers, eager children, a musician, often a clown, sometimes a politician and very often, a florist. It's only a two block stroll from one end of the market to the other, but it's enough to give one the feeling of having shopped an entire bazaar.

There are much larger markets in the area - downtown Oakland has one every Friday - but the Alameda market is filled with familiar faces both before and behind the stands, and that makes it a much more inviting one to us. The market is on Haight Street, running east from Webster, and as such is a draw for Alamedans to the west side of town and its delights - which are many and multiplying.

By leaving the market to go the few blocks to the health club we are exposed to the rapidly rising shopping center anchored by Target. Men and machines are transforming the once empty space into a mall, with outlying stores and a neighborhood of new homes. The workers are moving along at a rapid clip and before the end of the year, we should be seeing ads for the new stores.

It gives us pause as traffic around our health spa will increase, but that is the price of progress. Once inside the club, we hasten to change and get into the pool with the promise of the hot tub awaiting the end of our exertions. We exert in the company of others and at a pace that allows for conversation and the continuation of acquaintanceships formed over many days of trudging through the water or swimming laps.

From the pool to the hot tub and the long release of breath in an "aaahhh" as we slip into the 106 degree water and lean back against the churning bubble filled jets to hydro-massage our muscles. It is no wonder that I turn west with such eagerness as it's the home of sweet fruit and tasty veggies on the one hand (food for the body) and the watery delights of the health club and its hot tub.

Tonight we'll picnic with friends, but it will be against the backdrop of that satisfying "aaahhh" of the hot tub after the market.

Ah, the simple pleasures of Alameda.