For my 30th birthday, I comissioned Reapersun’s to create a picture of Kalp, Gwen and Basil sampling osaps in a summer farmer’s market.
Here it is! Isn’t it fantastic!
This time, Kalp takes the initiative and tugs on Gwen’s hand. His other hand has the now-crushed herb packet. Kalp leads them to the cart at the end of the row, and Basil follows. Before he is within five feet of the cart, Kalp knows what it holds. He stops at its lip, staring down at the assortment of produce with wide, burning eyes.
It is all food from his world.
Some of it is smaller and tougher looking. Some of the fruits are a bit misshapen, some are not vibrant enough, but some are bigger and brighter and fatter than Kalp has ever seen them grow. The woman — barely an adult, Kalp thinks — grins hugely at him.
“Was ‘opin you’d come my way,” she says. “See anythin’ familiar?”
Kalp is overjoyed!
“Where did you acquire the seeds?”
“One o’ yer people was a botanist — snatched thousands of ’em from her labs. She’s working with my Pa. Got us the best hothouse in the county.”
Kalp’s eyes burn anew to hear that so much flora has survived.
Kalp wants one of everything. He wants all of it! But Gwen has only meted out a small amount of tender, enough to buy the required ingredients for one meal. He points out what he’d like, squeezing and sniffing and grinning back at the vendor. For every one he purchases, she gives two for free. He is as flattered by her generosity as he ever has been with any human’s.
Basil keeps up a steady stream of inquiries, asking what that is, and this, and what does it taste like, and how is it prepared, and can you eat it raw, and can he try one of these right now? Kalp selects the ripest of a small red fruit his people call the osap and the vendor washes it with her bottled water and Basil goes into raptures eating it on the spot. Gwen demands a bite, and is equally as pleased.
The vendor is happy, because now other shoppers are crowding around. Where the strangeness of foods from other worlds at first kept them away, now they are drawn by Kalp’s ability to explain what it is and how everything is used, by the novelty of the experience, and by Basil’s ringing endorsements.
Soon the vendor is too busy dropping produce into cloth bags and collecting tender to converse with them, but Kalp is happy to have helped her become prosperous. This is an excellent way to pay her back for her generosity. Kalp, Gwen, and Basil turn to go, and the vendor stops them with a shout:
“Oi!” she says. “You stop by after closin’ next Friday, mebe, we’ll talk. Mebe I’ll take you up to Pa’s farm, eh? You can give ‘im tips?”
Kalp bobs his head in the affirmative. He would very much like to see the farm. Kalp is no grower of plants, no cultivator of land, but he has been on farms on his own planet as a child and would like to compare.
Their last stop is at a vendor’s cart laden with animal carcasses. Kalp’s front teeth are sharp, an evolutionary throwback from carnivore ancestors, and he is eager to peruse the wares. He cannot find exactly what he is looking for, but settles on something called “venison,” which he hopes tastes close enough.
All the way back to the car, Basil keeps trying to dip his hands into the sack filled with produce to snatch another osap, and Kalp gamely keeps the purchases elevated far above Basil’s sneaking arms. Kalp’s reach greatly exceeds Basil’s.
Kalp tries out his first laugh, and it seems to be well received.