"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Of Food And The Human Spirit

Eavesdropping in the grocery store, like any good, self-respecting writer, I overheard these conversations in the checkout line....

"My mommy and daddy got married."
They did?"
"Yup. On Wednesday."

"I can buy some food now and know it won't get eat."
"Oh?"
"Yeah, I was buying all the food and those people were eating it all. Now they're gone, so I'll have some food."
"Oh."

"The milk makes my hand cold. I had to set it down."
"Good. You don't want warm milk."

I was kinda glad to escape that store, but I still see that little girl with her proud proclamation, and the man with the groceries he was finally going to get to eat, and the old woman with the half gallon of milk and knarled hands.

Then I caught a report on the radio about planting potatoes in Peru. Because of the warming trend over the last twenty years, farmers have had to move their potatoes up the mountain to plant at higher and higher elevations for the cooler temperature. But the mountain only goes so high. In some areas, they are already planting on top of the mountain.

I've been meaning to share this story, so now I will. There was an old man who walked his dog along the road every day. Morning, afternoon, evening, regardless of the weather, he was out there. My sister and I always passed him when we drove to work at different times, and he always threw up an arm, like he knew you. He waved at everyone. Then one day he wasn't there. Several days passed, and no one saw him. My sister worried about him. She thought his family put him in a home. I said nonsense. She worried about the dog. I thought he might come back, but he never did. Every time I drive that stretch of road I think about him.

And further back inside my brain: When someone uses a cane or a walker, you can hear them coming. Thump. Thump. There’s an undertone of foreboding in that noise. You want it to stop. You want it to continue. You wonder when it will all come crashing down around you. One thing that has recently become clear to me is how much easier it is to give assistance than to receive it.

That's it. My blog has been quiet but I've been busy getting the garden in (everything is late) and editing Black River, my new novel. I have all these thoughts racing around in my head and no time to delve into them. If I go much further back in my brain I might discover something really scary.

13 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh the poor man and dog. Now I'm worried about them too. I hope it's nothing serious.

Also maybe that's why I'm not getting potatoes. It's too hot here these days.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Anne,
It's been a while so he's no longer around. It's kinda sad. Nobody waves at strangers anymore. I thought the potato story was interesting. And scary. Thanks for commenting!

sarahwedgbrow said...

definitely easier to offer assistance than accept it...but I've still got green bones.
new novel sounds interesting...might have to start on a new one soon. :)

Wine and Words said...

The mountain is only so tall. That gets to me. Then what? There was a baby goose, or duck, or something outside my window this morning. It hadn't enough wings to fly and seemed disoriented and lost. I found a box and went out there to try and get it back across the road without touching it...to get it near water at least. By the time I got the box, it was gone. I wonder of it. I wonder of the man and the dog. Sometimes I feel responsible for everyone.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Sarah,
Green bones? Does that mean your spray and nimble?? Yes, Only by starting a new novel could I set the other one down. Thanks.

Annie,
Yeah, that story really got to me. Some of those people have only ever grown potatoes and they don't know what to do. Your baby duck probably figured it out by itself. There's only so much we can do.

Jemi Fraser said...

I try to never delve too far into the back of my brain ... might never come out again!

I hope your man shows up again. One of the familiar strangers in my life died a few weeks back & it's sad.

paulgreci said...

The potato story is intense and telling!

Anthony Duce said...

So interesting the things in our past waiting, churning, being wondered over, waiting to be told. I was thinking of how much goes instead into my journal, thinking I’ve found a place to hide these thoughts, these worries, only to have them surface again.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Jemi,
Familiar strangers....you've got that right. Thanks.

Paul,
I thought so too. Thanks so much for commenting.

Tony,
I need to start up my journal again. I used to write in it every day. A very good habit.

Lydia K said...

What happened to the man? I hope he's okay, or at least, at peace if he's no longer.

I really enjoyed your post today. Good luck on your writing!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Lydia,
Thank you so much.

Judy Croome said...

Oh my gosh, Yvonne,this post grabbed my emotions and won't let them go.

For the last few years my Dad used a walking stick and, when caring got too much, that thump thump down the wooden floor of my passage would raise such mixed emotions.

Since his stroke in November last year, he is confined to a wheel chair and that sound is missing, replaced by the whoosh of wheels...and with the recent loss of my dear Father in law, I'm constantly anxious about the day- which, given my Dad's ailing health, is surely not too distant- when, like the thump of my Dad's stick, the whoosh of his wheelchair falls silent too.

Judy, South Africa

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Judy,
Thanks so much for commenting. Isn't it strange how the sounds of aging effect us and remind us of our own mortality? I'll take the sound of the cane and the walker over the wheelchair. One day at a time. I'm sorry about your dad.