Although I have several basil plants growing in my garden and in various pots on my back porch, I bought home a huge bunch from the farmers market the other day. Even in that open air, cacophonous market atmosphere, the intense smell of this basil hit me from 6 feet away and stopped me in my tracks. Vigorous and spicy, its leaves were thick and hardy, almost leather-like. This was field basil, grown in the intense heat of California's Capay Valley where it was pulled up by its roots, bound into large messy bunches and stuffed into pails of water for market day. I wanted to bring home an armload but I stopped myself at just one bunch. It now sits in a vase in the middle of my kitchen table, its feisty presence a reminder of the intense, fleeting nature of life. Pay attention! it demands. And I do.