"Do small things with great love."
I looked behind me and there she was, just like she use to be, many years ago. Except that then she usually peeked over my shoulder to gaze at my spelling words or my placement of countries on a map. And she was allergic to perfume. I'll never forget that.
Even so, I refused to submit. I proudly doused myself with the newest Bath and Body Works scent or spritzed Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers on my wrists before heading off to school. "I'll blame it on someone else," I always thought to myself. (proud, proud grin)
While us girls busied ourselves smelling pretty, the mischievous lads took a more auditory route: syncing the alarms on their watches. I'll never forget the sly glances and smirks of delight that ensued seconds before the witching hour. Hands would race to cover toothy grins. Fake coughs and attempts at throat clearing worked to conceal devious delight. And then....beep-beep...beep-beep. It was classic. Sixth grade craziness in its most pure of forms.
Oh, the memories.
But today, as I turned around from selecting the perfect acorn squash, I met, yet again, the caring gaze of my sixth grade teacher. No longer was she checking up on my decimal point alignment or gently reminding of the "i before e except after c" rule, but she, too, was choosing ingredients for her evening meal.
Without missing a beat, I became the student and she the teacher. As we balanced our authentic wicker shopping baskets and dodged customer after customer, we chatted and chatted. Amazingly enough we covered everything from handgun permits and automated social security payments to baby bunnies and yogurt covered pretzels. Golly-gee, I bet we stood there and chatted for 40 minutes.
But that's the perk of shopping locally. Not only do you have the opportunity to buy quality produce from your trusted neighbor, you get to feel welcome and 'at home' while doing so. Although we took up plenty of space in a store bursting and crammed with freshness, no one seemed to mind. A plastic shopping cart never banged into our legs and people never gave us unkind looks. Rather, it proved quite the opposite.
While we stood there, others joined in our conversation. Amazingly, one of the school secretaries came in and the three of us ended up discussing the tragedy of technology and the sad loss of beautiful old schools. Other people politely interrupted us to comment on the "beautiful beans" that overflowed from a wooden crate or to excuse themselves as the reached past us for fresh lettuce or tomatoes.
Eventually, our conversation came to a close, and off we both went, gathering the items and necessary ingredients to make our healthy and fresh recipes. As we poked around, we continually bumped into each other, stopping to comment on the numerous treats and about how much we enjoy the Havarti cheese. Apparently, neither of us can boast of willpower, as we both gazed longingly at the refrigerated case, mouths watering, unable to resist a freshly sliced brick.
And, since we're teachers- one new-ish and one retired- we couldn't help but comment on the strawberries and how they signaled the coming of summer vacation.
With that, I added a package to my filled-to-the-brim basket, invited my teacher over for coffee and waltzed outside and into the sunshine.
Driving home I couldn't stop myself from thinking about what it would be like when the roles switch. As much as I like to trick myself into believing that I've found the fountain of youth, someday...someday, I tell you... I'll be the retired teacher, talking with a previous student, reminiscing and chatting and catching-up on years gone bye.
Will I ever run into previous students while shopping at the local fruit market? If so, what will we discuss? What will they remember about me? What will be their crazy Mrs. Wheeler memory?
And that, my friends, is part of the joy of shopping locally.
I love the small town life. I wouldn't change it for anything.