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  • As I was finishing up a meeting in my office late this morning, I could hear the sweet strains of blues guitar notes floating in through the window. Hmmm, that sounds like it's live. What's going on? Oh yeah, today's the kickoff of this year's Farmers' Market - every Friday during the summer, the Farmers' Market assembles right outside my window, 3 floors down, with freshly grown and prepared food from local farms in Virginia and Maryland. Right here at the "People's Department" on the National Mall. There's always someone there with some good lunch choices, as well. I love the Farmers' Market.

    As soon as we finish the meeting up, I'm down 3 flights and out the door. Lunchtime! It's a glorious day - warm, with a slightly cool, gentle breeze. These are the days to hang onto, and remember in the dog days of July and August when it gets ungodly hot and humid. I've been thinking maybe we'll get one of those mild summers this year, for a change. The past few have been scorchers. I could use a mild summer. I've officially put in my request for one of them. So far, the response to my request has been favorable.

    My plan was to grab a sandwich, which I do - pulled pork on a fresh bun, with a freshly brewed sweet tea to wash it down - and head back up to my office to write that memo I just agreed to write. Then I see the Peoples' Garden, just beckoning me to come have a seat under a canopy of trees, on a varnished stump, nice and cool, peaceful, inviting. I follow my instinct and do that, instead. The memo can wait. For now, let me sit here for 15 minutes, enjoy this delicious sandwich and sweet tea and shade and the summertime life brimming on the national mall, and let my thoughts drift, just for a bit.

    I love working for the People's Department. It was founded 150 years ago last month, by my Great-Grandfather's then boss - Abraham Lincoln. I love what this government agency is about. I love working with the people who work here for the same reason I do - the mission of the agency. Ensuring a safe and healthy food supply. I like having this connection to Lincoln. Of all of the American icons, he's surely one of my favorites. He was so human, so full of contradictions and challenges, able to see the humor in the most desperate of times, able to boil down extremely complex situations into a few concise sentences. I still love reading the Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inaugural speech. Talk about a writer! I admire anyone who can say a lot with a minimum of words.

    Words - writing - oh, yeah. I believe I have a memo to write. Back to the salt mines! I'm going to emulate Abe on this one, and say 3 pages worth in a half page. Wish me luck!
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