Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The morning is cool and partly sunny as I get off work, and I am just not ready to go home to bed. Being only Wed., there are no yard sales, and being inside again doesn't appeal to me. I decide to drive over to the local AM station and pick up a prize I won a couple of weeks ago when I answered a trivia question about tomatoes. It's beautiful, the music is right (Barry Manilow, since you asked) and I am singing along, turned around, but in the right neighborhood I know. Finally I see the sign, and turn onto the gravel drive leading to a converted house that sits on top of a small knoll, surrounded by apple orchards. It has a lovely view of NC mountains right off the front porch.
As I slip in the front door, the talking gets louder and I realize the sliding glass doors to the studio are open. I tiptoe quietly over to the entry table where the prize envelopes are stacked to search for mine. (Did you discern this is a rather informal setup?) As I sift through, I hear one of the DJ's say something about someone here to pick up a prize. Gulp. I don't know if they are on the air or if a commercial is playing, but the host, another announcer and their guest all turn to view me from the studio and wave. I wave my envelope, mouth the word thanks, and try to leave. Oh, no, they are in great spirits this morning. One comes after me and holds the door open while another calls out to ask my name, holding up some piece of equipment--maybe a microphone? Why can I never think of sharp or witty things to say until half an hour or half a mile has passed? There I am, my name badge proclaiming my employer for all to see, while I do my best impression of the world's dullest nurse. I say something inane, like "Keep playing that great music--I've been singing all the way here" or some such platitude, and beat a hasty retreat down the steps. I hope no one I know has heard me.
From there I drive over to one of the farms this station advertises, intending to get a basket of strawberries and some fresh asparagus. The advertised open time is 9:00, and it's only 8:35 as I pull up to the shed, but there are a couple of cars passing me on their way out and the strawberry baskets line the table. I ask if it's okay that I'm early, and the farmer and his wife beckon me on out of the truck. Ma'am, he calls me, though he is clearly 15 years my senior. He proudly shows me several hanging baskets of tomatoes that "you treat just like flowers, with Miracle Gro and all", and there are already dozens of tiny yellow flowers.
He pulls a few leaves aside to show me small green tomatoes nearing grape size, and I am persuaded to bring it home. His wife counts out my change and he arranges the plant in the back of my truck "so the wind won't blow it too hard". I am urged to return for the purple asparagus soon.
I don't know how I found both places, but my sense of direction fails me now. I drive down back roads, around curves and over small hills, the mountains that typical smoky blue color around me. In a small but very neat little yard, an older lady is already out pulling weeds, and farther down I see a riding mower with a "for sale" sign sitting close to the road, its owner apparently unworried about someone trying to haul it off without paying. A man I don't know in a neighborhood I've never been through raises his hand in that familiar wave.
Soon enough I realize I have been heading in the opposite direction from my home and I find a larger road and then another until I make my way back to the highway and home again, an hour after buying fresh fruits and veggies at a place only 10 minutes from my home. Tandi comes wriggling out to meet me and I carry my treasures into the house, and onto the deck. J-Man, who is accustomed to me coming home 'whenever' on the morning of my first night off, is properly appreciative of my purchases and asks about my night. I put my tomato basket on the deck, exclaim over my seedlings sprouted from eggshell planters, water the petunias by the front porch, celebrate the small shoots of grass coming up from the previously bare spots, and wave at one of my neighbors as he drives past.
Life is good.