I stopped in at the little store in town today. It used to have five aisles, but recently they reorganized to bring the feed, seed, and hardware into the main grocery building, and somehow they managed to squish it all together and make it work with aisles of plumbing pipes and nails and chains and chickens feeders next to flour, sugar, and canning jars. I’m not sure how many aisles there are now, but there are a lot–and in the same space. And they still have the deli and fast food kitchen at the back with little tables to sit and shoot the breeze or wait for your hamburger.
Now that I’m farming on my own, I’m in the store more often, usually once a week. I’m the one picking up the feed or whatever else is needed. It’s a full-service little store. You can rent movies, get a hot pizza to order, pick up your milk and bread, find any hardware items you need, get your feed and seed or a bale of straw, and even check your deer if you have one–all in one place. It’s the only store for miles and miles around, and it does it all. In the spring, you can get chicks and bunnies, too.
It’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but at first they were surprised when I started coming in to buy the feed because I hadn’t been doing that before. I have to work with them sometimes to get them to understand what I want. Or maybe they have to work with me. I went in there to get some chicken feed the first time and we had a long conversation before I decided which kind to get, trying to figure out what kind I usually got. I didn’t realize they had so many different kinds of everything. I’m still trying to figure out the right dog food. I went in there the other day and asked for a copper block. They were calling back and forth across the store, the clerk and Eddie who carries things from the back out to your car. “She wants a copper block!” “She wants a salt block?” “No, a copper block!” “We don’t have a copper block!” “She says she wants a copper block!” “DOES SHE MEAN A MINERAL BLOCK?”
Well, okay, call it that if you want since that’s what it’s called. I’m figuring out the right words for stuff.
Every time I’m in there lately, I gravitate to the hardware aisles. Not to buy anything, though sometimes I’m tempted. I just walk slowly up and down the aisles and look at everything. I stop and pick stuff up. Read the names of things on the packages, and think, so that’s what a whatzahoozit is. I’m fascinated by all the strange objects and tools and pieces and parts. I want to make stuff and fix stuff. For now, I just look at stuff, let it seep into my brain and tell myself I could use this, I could do something with that, it can’t be more complicated than knitting needles.
In the whole time I lived at Stringtown Rising, I never bought myself any work gloves. I wore the same pair of red gloves I’ve had for a long time. I got them to go with a hat and coat I have. I bought them in the women’s department of a chain store. They’re made of some kind of stretchy velour material with some leather padding on the inside of the palm and fingers. They get wet, and they aren’t all that warm.
The little store had a rack of work gloves at the front of one of the hardware aisles. I picked up a pair of insulated leather work gloves and put them on. I walked up and down the aisles looking at whatzahoozits and thinking about how I didn’t have any work gloves. Every once in a while, I’d put them on, then take them off again, then put them on again, wondering why I’d never bought myself any real work gloves before.
Then after I finished looking at all the whatzahoozits for the day, I walked up to the counter with the gloves and bought them.
I think I never took myself seriously at this farming thing before.
But now I do.
And next time I’m at the little store, I’m going to get a pair for Morgan, too.