Joe just came inside and a bit of the bitter cold air followed him through the door. But when he reached into his coat pockets he pulled out summer and fall: an orange, a grapefruit and an apple. Fresh fruit in the midst of a bitter cold snap. He hadn’t made a trip to the grocery store for it, but rather a quick trip to our root cellar. We always buy a bushel of oranges from the FFA kids and two bushels of apples from a local orchard. They provide our winter fruit. He asked me which piece of fruit I would rather have and I chose the orange. It was cold and firm. I peeled it slowly, savoring the sweet smell of sunshine and citrus. I ate it deliberately thinking about the boxes of fruit and other good things stored in our cellar.
Joe and I drove to Staunton yesterday for a load of chicken feed and of course made a trip to the grocery store. It took us six hours to complete this odious chore and when we got home, I was more tired than if I had spent the day shoveling snow. I craved a nap. I appreciate my root cellar most on days like yesterday because it keeps me from having to drive for groceries more than two or three times a month. Putting up jars of beets and tomatoes and beans and pickles and peaches and relishes is time consuming, but pleasant, fulfilling work in a light filled kitchen. Walking up and down the aisles of a grocery store, overwhelmed by aisles of choices is drudgery to me. Why in the world would anyone need an entire aisle dedicated to cereal and another just for toilet paper? I hate shopping most particularly because of the overload of information I must sort through to find what I need. And just when I’ve memorized where things are in a store, the chain decides to rearrange things so I’ll be tempted to buy more as I search. I much prefer my tiny root cellar with its tidy rows of jars. Shall I have beans or beets? Whatever I choose, there’s only one variety to tempt me, so I can save my time for more valuable pursuits than reading labels.
I often wonder if I would feel the same revulsion towards shopping if I lived where I could do it on a whim. If I could jump in my car and be at the mall within ten minutes would I spend more time there? Would I, like my mom, shop each day for what I planned to eat at night, thus spending no more than fifteen minutes on the whole operation? I don’t know. I only know that when a trip to town always includes a mandatory trip to the grocery store, the drug store, the feed store and any other store we should add to the list so we don’t have to come back soon, it wears me out just to think about it. I hate shopping but, maybe in a world gone mad over materialism, that’s a good thing.