I had some difficult news yesterday. It doesn’t really matter what it was except that it was the kind of news that could send tendrils of fear into the days ahead and leave you feeling a bit preoccupied.
And I woke up this morning in fear and preoccupation and with an awareness that the cupboards were heading towards empty-ish again and that I needed to get some food again amongst all the other jobs in the day.
And then it started to rain. And it rained and rained. And it rained some more. Actually that implies breaks in the rain. There weren’t any. It was the kind of rain where you know that some soul somewhere is about to get flooded and the drains will start to burst in the pavements and that it’s going to sheet down the front of your rain-proof coat and pool like a waterfall down your knees until your trousers are soggy bags and your feet are squelching.
So I’m skin-wet. I’m preoccupied. I’m on my way home. To get what I need, the nearest shop is at least 30 minutes walk away and I’m walking down a long, main street that has nothing but supermarkets in it. And I want to go home. I really want to go home. This is the point where a van drives past and heads at high speed into a build-up of water directly next to the pavement where I’m cogitating. I don’t have to paint a picture of my thought processes for a short time after that.
And I can feel the urgent desire building just to whip into the nearest Tesco and grab a few things wrapped in the plastic and dispense with the big detour. Who could blame me? I’m soggy. I’m sorry for myself. It’d be a kindness. What’s the harm? I can always start again tomorrow, can’t I?
At this point, something arises internally that is not especially familiar to my sofa-lovin’, inner Libran. It’s a Granny Weatherwax moment. It says, “Personal ain’t the same as important.”
My personality sags. “Oh, Come ooonnn!!! It’s such a long way. I’m soaked. I have issues. What’s a little packet of tomatoes between friends? And besides, it’s not my fault that there isn’t a veggie shop anywhere along the entirety of South Clerk Street! I mean, what’s with that!!?”
The newly-acquired inner Weatherwax simply shrugs. Too late. The inner committee has committed. We’re going to walk the big walk and get the plastic-free stuff. I feel like a schlepper, teeth-gritting heroine (and tuna fish) all rolled into one.
And then it happens.
It is a miracle.
(This actually happened. I’m not making this up.)
There ten yards ahead, where there’s never been one before, a VEGETABLE shop, complete with a bounty of loose fruit, vegetables and even, get this, a bit of plastic-free salad. (It’s not surrounded in a soft, shimmering glow but if I squint…almost..almost…)
I stagger in. I think, a la Terry Pratchett, that maybe it’s one of those magical shops that appears just once when you need it and that as soon as you leave it will disappear like Brigadoon.
(But actually, I asked the guy behind the counter and he opened it six weeks ago.)
There’s some moral here but I’m still too saturated to think about it. But good, huh?!