Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Reckon I'll Keep Him

I stopped at the produce stand. I understand from talking to people on the internet that they don’t seem to have produce stands everywhere. I keep wondering if that could really be the case or not. But they are common here.

Produce stands are a little like grocery stores were before supermarkets came in to vogue, and if you are younger than a half century, you may not realize there were groceries before supermarkets. The one we frequent is rather elaborate for a produce stand. This time of year he has a greenhouse set up and sells flower and vegetable plants, seed potatoes, onion sets, seeds.

All year he has bananas and apples and onions and potatoes and that sort of thing. Lots of his stuff is actually local (his family grows some of it) and lots of his stuff that isn’t totally local is still local compared to most of what you could get in a supermarket. Like my favorite purple skinned sweet potatoes come from South Carolina. They carry real molasses which is sorghum and so thick it is almost jelled. It usually comes out of Kentucky.

It is a family business, and also a place people hang out. In the winter there is a kerosene heater and men sitting around it telling lies and spitting. I’ve draft horse contacts there. When the October beans are ripe, people sit around and shell them out of the still flexible pods and people pay huge amounts of money for them green shelled like that.

So I stopped by the produce stand to pick up some bulk apples for the children (.58/#), 10# of potatoes for French fries (we have new potatoes already but they don’t make good French fries), some small onion sets for another bed of green onions, a big cabbage to have on hand (I got a nice big 5# head at .33/# which isn’t a steal but it is a good deal). I didn’t spend $8 all told.

Of course, we know all the people there. They are, in fact, in some remote way related to my husband’s aunt’s husband, both deceased. But relations are important in the mountains. And so the man ringing me up said, “Where’s he today?” ‘He’ in that context is always your husband, or ‘she’ would be your wife, and names are never used if it can be avoided in order to keep all conversations as indirect as possible.

We bantered for a minute about this, that and the other thing. And then, very uncharacteristically, this man looks over his glasses at me, directly in the eye, holding my eye, and said in a voice a half octave below his usual speaking voice, “You’ve got a good man there.”

And then the banter resumed.

And I am so touched.


Jim said...

I'd say that "he" has a pretty good woman too...

thingfish23 said...

To be thought of in such a way by your neighbors'll get you far in the real "real world". And my guess is that the folks you call your neighbors aren't particularly easy to impress, either.

Take care of him, as I'm sure he does you!

Susan Gets Native said...

That little comment brought a lump to my throat. I absolutely love it when someone does something uncharacteristic like that. Especially when it's a salty dog who never opens up...the man you were talking to reminds me of my dad, who we lost in 2004. A man of few words, but when he opened up, even a little, it was like sunshine.
Thanks for giving me that little choke-up. I needed that.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Oh good! Oh thank you! THAT was what I was trying to capture in writing that. That's the fun part of writing, actually. I love vignettes. Except they usually go right over people's heads.

javaseeker said...

We drop by our produce stand once or twice a week. If we miss a week, they let us know we've been missed. He'll pick out the perfect cantaloupe for me everytime, and they'll cut deals for us--when they really shouldn't (last year they sold us 3 orange crates of tomatoes for $10 total...we already have tomatoes!)

the Contrary Goddess said...

I cannot *imagine* living without produce stands! LOL!