Whenever I go walking and don’t have anything in particular on my mind, I tend to find myself thinking about similar walking occasions. If I walk in the woods, I think about other woods I have known. Beaches, same. Today I walked to the grocery store, and got to counting up the grocery stores I have walked to in my days.
There was the one in our college town (hardly any of us had access to a car). That was a hike down and more importantly back up the hill. That was where I first started learning how to cook, after a couple of summers on frozen foods and Tuna Helper. It was a small town, and a basic store, but it did the job.
After we moved to Boston there was a Bread and Circus down the street from our apartment. It was a poky little place–this was before the era of warehouse-sized supermarkets in the city. They wrapped your meat in butcher paper, which they still do at Whole Foods, although now they put the chicken in plastic bags first, which seems to defeat the point. When we moved to Somerville, I would sometimes walk to the store in Porter Square if the weather was mild, although I more often took the bus and later, when we had one, the car.
In Worcester there was a store right down the street. One winter I was heavily pregnant, it was snowing, and as I plodded home with my bags festooned around me, someone pulled over to offer me a ride. It was very kind of them, but I had to truthfully point out that it was only a couple of blocks.
And now there’s this place, where we have a choice of two major supermarket chains less than a mile away. I sometimes walk if I only need a few things and feel like I have the time, and always tell myself I should make the time more often. It doesn’t take that much longer, factoring in waiting at lights and so forth.
As I stump along with my bag of vegetables and jug of milk, I think about all of those past grocery stores, and future stores, and future walks in which I am one of those old ladies with a rolling cart, doggedly battling it homeward over the humps in the sidewalk. I wonder what I’m buying? Less milk than I do these days, probably.