By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet
Centrum Center for the Arts, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, offers residencies for writers and other artists. The center itself is at old Fort Warden. Perhaps you remember An Officer and a Gentleman, which was filmed there. The backdrop is Puget Sound.
Port Townsend itself is a Victorian fishing village-turned-liberal-outpost. It is perhaps the most progressive small community I have ever encountered. One of my favorite activities there is shopping at the Port Townsend Food Co-Op. Here is a poem celebrating that experience after last week’s residency.
Port Townsend Food Co-Op
A sense of intention permeates the aisles,
a supposition turned into a reality,
a trend transformed into a staple.
Here staples do not clamor for attention,
but in their lovely, still bins beckon
an invitation to health.
Here simplicity is elegant,
and a quiet, post-consumer joy
whispers, “It’s time. It’s time.”
It’s time to care where food comes from,
who processed it, how, and why;
time to measure what we take from this earth.
Here food is science, art and spirit:
Port Townsend Bay Organic Coffee,
smooth blend to start your day with a purr,
red dried apricots to keep the engine running smooth;
crunchy trail mix to sustain the engine.
So many raw, virginal foods to keep it revved!
This is a place that returns to a gusty palette
of dark, delicious strong cheese,
a cornucopia of untainted vegetables,
a grinder for fresh cashew or almond butter,
a juice bar where a burst of sun and ginger
keeps the pipes rolling like STP.
A meal here has a different kind of class:
honey-roasted golden beets with a little crunch,
purple, orange and green garbanzo salads.
People arrive on bikes and with dogs
in patriotic bandanas who wait
as they shop carefully for clove shampoo,
toothpaste free of toxins and full of herbs,
talking to friends in aisles, in
a post-consumer community, where everyone
knows that having too much
no longer defines success, and happiness
shines in the sheer harmony of living well.
Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet.
From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue