Shoppers walk through the Farmers Market along Arizona Avenue on a Wednesday morning. (photo by Brandon Wise)

Editor’s Note: This is a series in which Daily Press writers overhear and observe happenings around Santa Monica.

DOWNTOWN — It’s like a gorgeous sunset on a cold, gray morning.

The bright glow of oranges and peaches stands out against the rich purple of berries and plums that line the booths of the Farmers’ Market on Arizona Avenue and Second Street on Wednesday.

“The ones at the grocery store are so puny,” a man says to his wife. He examines a crate full of pluots that look so juicy they just might burst.

Nearby, a woman looks down her nose at a crate of tomatoes.

“Want to pick this one?” the salesman asks, waving a near-empty box in her face. The would-be customer inspects the produce critically.

“Can I try one of these?” another patron asks, holding a fig. The vendor consents, and she puckers slightly as she tastes the fruit.

Pointy tents and tables laden with nuts, pastries, stuffed olives and many other varieties of enticing, local foods draw hordes of customers, many of whom carry canvas bags or push carts through the crowd.

“My bag cares,” reads one woman’s satchel, touting her environmental awareness in forgoing disposable paper or plastic bags.

Many generations are represented at the market. A middle-aged woman whispers in the ear of an elderly man who she’s pushing in a wheelchair. She seems to be cautioning him against buying fruit with worms in it. A few feet away, a young boy points excitedly at a pigeon that hurriedly waddles out of range of his feet.

“Don’t touch unless you want to buy,” a woman gently instructs two giggling blond children.

A few items for sale are less traditional. A single stand sells CDs, fish bait and electric fly swatters.

“You’ve got my curiosity going here,” says an approaching customer.

Many customers discuss potential purchases before buying.

“Do we still have peaches, or are they all eaten?” a woman asks her companions.

“Snap peas? No, they’re out of season,” says another.

A few booths selling flowers are clustered together down Second. The thick scent hangs in the air as the sun burns off the fog above.

“If you drive 10 miles that way it’ll be a bright sunny day,” says a man at the central information desk. “It’s just right here by the beach.”

At noon, a shouting match breaks out on Arizona between Second and Third streets.

“Peaches!” a saleswoman shouts down a man handing out free samples of melon a few feet away. “Three pounds for five dollars! The sweetest!”

“Get your free samples here!” he yells back. The area around the feet of a man handing out samples of pistachio nuts is littered with shells.

With all the crowds, it can be easy to get separated. Children cling to the hands of their parents, and mothers’ eyes constantly scan, counting heads.

“We want to stay together as a pack,” a young man calls to his aunt. She rejoins the group of five, and they look around for everyone else.

As the afternoon wears on, the supplies of produce begin to dwindle. Vendors lift the last crates of cauliflower and eggplant out of trucks behind their booths, but customers’ appetites show no signs of waning.

All the purchased produce is starting to add up for some cartless patrons, though. Some hold several bags in one hand, clutching a shopping list, cell phone or companion’s hand in the other. Others drape bags over their shoulders — it’s time to head home.

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