Isn’t it funny how small things that normally go by unnoticed, can suddenly bring memories or thoughts to one’s mind?
Since a couple of days spring is definitely in the air. The weather is extraordinary kind for the time of year. This afternoon we noted 24° C in our garden!! Really exceptional. And with this fine weather all the bulb flowers suddenly come out of hybernation. Flaming red tulips compete with sunny yellow narcisses which on their turn are dancing with white and blue muscari, whilst hyacinths spread such an incredible soft odor. It’s an amazing season!
I don’t know whether this phenomenon is also known in other parts of the world, but over here, together with the beginning of spring, people are starting to clean up, paint and do other stuff like that, as if everything deserves a fresh, spic & span start. So, while tidying up some old paper, my eye fell on a b&w leaflet from a small vegetable store. Amidst the colored, glossy brochures of the big stores, it humbly cried for attention “We celebrate spring! Come and buy a kilo of tomatoes and you get a kilo of onions for free!”
We used to have those little grocery stores almost on every street corner. I remember as a small child, after helping my mom doing the dishes, I’d get 1 old Belgian frank (now it would be 1 Euro, which is about 40x as much, but nobody seems to notice that!). Then I’d run to the little shop to buy some candy, not knowing what to choose from all those goodies – all of which is considered terribly unhealthy nowadays! But it was such a lovely moment!
All that is gone, at least it is over here. Those small groceries couldn’t keep up with the supermarkets, which in their turn had to make room for megamarkets and shopping malls, open till late at night, some even on Sundays. And although we got so used to those luxureous 24/7 shopping facilities, I often feel homesick for the little grocery store.
Does this sound familiar?
A warm sunny day, enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea and you’d sure like a piece of home baked apple pie to go with it. Everything is at hand except for a couple of eggs. You could ask your neighbour, but, well…. it’s a bit not done nowadays, especially since you hardly know him… Of course the megastore is open and they have plenty of eggs, but it would be such a waste of your valuable sunny time to spend it in a cue at the pay desk! Especially since you always seem to pick the slowest line – or does that only happen to me?
And furthermore you should dress and make up! OK, you could go in your easy garden shorts and top or lazy jogging suite, that is, if you don’t mind the very peculiar looks. The only way to avoid those disapproving stares is by putting on some running shoes, clip a mini pod – visibly – in your pocket and plug in some fancy earphones. Then run into the store, keep breathing like you just ran a marathon, smile and hum a bit while you grab some eggs (!) you so desperately needed during your work out! In short, it would take you about an hour – at least – to get some eggs, after which you’d return home having lost all appetite for apple pie, let alone for baking one.
I’m probably sounding very old now, and I’m not pretending that everything used to be better. But if the small grocery store could co-exist in the shadow of the mega-shopping mall, you’d get a couple of eggs in a couple of minutes, receiving a nice smile from the grocer, not minding your outfit at all, saying “enjoying the sun, are you?”. Then you would answer: “Sure am, I’m going to bake some nice apple pie to go with my delicious cup of tea. Fancy a piece? I’ll bring you one in about an hour… See you!”
Better or not, the world has changed a lot.
And now I’m off, for a cup of tea in the spring sun, next to my garden tulips, but without apple pie, since I don’t have eggs in the fridge ;-).