Having decided not to spend Friday night in Point Reyes Station in anticipation of the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, we stayed home and got up early Saturday morning. After a pretty, misty drive over to the coast, we pulled into the picturesque little West Marin town at 8 a.m., found a parking spot on an easy-getaway side street, and then just hunkered down in the car for a while, reading the paper, until the farmers got their booths set up. (They wouldn't sell us any produce before 9 a.m.)
There was a definite buzz in the air, and lots more color than in recent weeks. One proprietor shouted to another, "I've never seen folks dress so nicely for the market!"
And that wasn't the only gussied-up touch: There was more food for sale. Supplies of produce that earlier seemed to have waned with the changing of the season were miraculously on hand, but the truth is, well, twofold.
1) Normally the Toby's Barn Market ends the last Saturday of October. This year it was extended a week, to accommodate the special guests.
2) Knowing ahead of time about the special guests and the extension, the farmers hoarded their loveliest crops, or chose not to even reap them for a couple extra weeks, so that Nov. 5 would be a visual (and, of course, edible) feast. I joked with Peter Worsley that he'd been holding out, and he flashed a mute, pained expression. I mean, he even had tomatoes Saturday from his own garden, and I'd never seen a single tomato there in the past. (To his credit, he gave me one at the end of the day.) Here's a shot of him sexing up his pile of delicata squash, under the blue hubbards (and we bought one of each).
And not just more food. The woman who sells beautiful, naturally dyed homespun yarn had a couple of goats on the premises! Good photo-op, eh? And yes, later on the Prince petted them. (So did I.)
But here's the deal. After we bought some jewel-like beets and some perfect potatoes, we retreated to the Western Saloon across the street. Oh sure, drinking was happening, but for the record, orange juice and coffee were being poured. Then, when a set of barricades was moved into place, effectively forming a gateway directly into the saloon, we realized the royals would be popping in for a pop! Alas, we were invited to remove our plebeian butts from the barstools and join the throng behind the barricades outside. And this is when we saw that the market had also been cleared of commoners.
Thus began the wait. Every car (official only, of course) that passed by on the street prompted gasps. At one point, two horses and a mule headed our way, right in the center of the road. All the king's horses? Ah, but no... To a chorus of boos, these hapless but well-mounted locals were diverted to a back street, which led them to where we were standing. (They had a terrific altitude advantage for watching the unfolding events — "He's turning around. They're crossing the street!" — but they had to sit directly over the organic stench that inevitably plops to the asphalt when you make a horse stand in one place too long.)
When the royal entourage finally arrived (and with deadly precision; we'd been told it would be 10:45, and it was 10:45), they strolled the market for what seemed like an hour or more. Well, yeah, it was more. They were scheduled for the Western at 12:04, and that's when they finally crossed the street to "our" side. And that's when Cranky caught the money shot.The one I posted yesterday was pretty good, too, but I have to add this one, of the ugly little pug, Fred, whom Prince Charles actually petted right in that very doorway.
The truth is, that picture I posted yesterday of Prince Charles was literally a 1-in-100. Between Cranky and me, we shot 100 pictures — not all of them aimed properly, or even intentionally, at the royals.
Yesterday's unbelievably successful shot — I'm only 5'3" — was number 99.
This is what most of our attempts looked like. Every time Charles and Camilla loomed into view, hands clutching cameras of every sort (from cardbord to Darth Vader-esque) were thrust into the air, over the heads of the crowds lining the street.
Even Cranky, who is admirably height-endowed, took an awful lot of shots of hair and sleeves. (He needs to work on his aim.)
Ah, well. So at the end of the day, I chatted with a guy outside Tomales Bay Foods. He bragged that he had shaken the Prince's hand, and allowed me to shake his, for a contact high. I told him I had petted the goats.