The Sunday market

Between the cheese market and the fruit and veg place is a ten-minute meander down the street lined with pitches selling flowers in summer, tree saplings in spring and autumn, cheap icons all year, and an assortment of goods laid out on plastic sheets for buyers to pore over, gimlet-eyed. At the bridge over the stream is usually a pitch flogging rough aluminium pots in varying sizes from titchy to witch’s cauldron, all with arched handles for hanging over a sobă or an open fire. Behind the pots, leaning against the bridge, is a row of besoms, made by hand, a bouquet of birch twigs trimmed and clamped to the long handle by two or three plaits of bark, price £2. Across the street are manly goods on the upstream side: scythe blades, chains for chainsaws, red tassels for horse harness to ward off the evil eye, sometimes a few shiny brass sheep or cow bells; horse shoes, soggy cardboard boxes of drill bits and spanners, bits of anonymous metal that look as if they belong inside a car or under a căruță. Tempting, but resistible.

By this stage, one has usually met two or three friends or neighbours, needing at least an exchange of greetings and more often a ten-minute chat about the current scandal, local, national or global. Bârfa is as much a market commodity as cheese or chisels, and as much of a draw as any groceries.

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