You know you're in the country when you meet someone like Sadie. She's a snazzily attired mannequin that oversees Sallie Molina's roadside produce stand along one of the many rural lanes that spiderweb out from Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, where I'm trying to stay warm despite the region's reputation for torrid summers. (This morning's San Luis Obispo Tribune says today's high could range anywhere from 67 degrees to 87 degrees, to give you some idea of how mysterious the current weather is here.)
At any rate, Sadie, The Garden Lady, is the only "person" overseeing the produce stand. There was no sign of Sallie Molina or any other human. I'm getting used to this. Molina's stand, with others I've seen hereabouts, operate on the honor system. Pick whatever tomatoes, zucchini, onions, basil and so forth you want, weigh them, then put cash, check or IOU in the pouch about Sadie's waist. "If you don't have the exact change leave us a note and we'll catch ya' next time," says a note on a table at the stand. Paso Robles has the usual big-box stores, supermarkets and other city amenities, but in several respects it's still country, as honor-system roadside produce stands attest, and that's something worth appreciating.