Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shopping at 95

When you are 95, the world whizzes along at top speed, while you struggle to keep up. We who once moved speedily through the day now move slowly, stopping to rest for longer periods and at more frequent intervals. Once easy tasks become a challenge. My mother cannot easily carry a pillow case half-full of dirty laundry the 75 or so feet from it's home near her bedroom door to the washing machine.

The grocery store is a challenge. Our neighborhood market (the real market, not the new Whole Foods outlet in the mall) is a small store with limited choices. But it is where she has shopped for more than 40 years, and where she is comfortable. Even five years ago she confidently walked all the aisles on a regular market day. Now I drop her at the front door where she grabs a cart and heads for the produce department. Then a quick turn through the meat department, and frequently a stop at the pharmacy in the middle of the store. Now she is tired. Bread is between the pharmacy and the registers. Occasionally she will drift over to the wine department two aisles away, looking for her favorite brands in the under $5 range. But the last 3 aisles -- the frozen food, dairy and deli sections, she has abandoned. She sends me to fetch.
"You get the milk. I like the 2%." My father would only accept whole milk.
"Margerine is on sale today for $1.00 Get 5 boxes, low fat if they have it." Don't even think about buying butter!
"Frozen potatoes. I like the Simply Shredded brand."

Today I took her to the Farmer's Market at Kapiolani Community College, between home and Waikiki. It is co-sponsored by the Food Services Department of the college and the Hawaii Farm Bureau, and happens every Saturday. It is also considered the premier Farmer's Market in Hawaii. Today they had lavender products from Maui, and fresh strawberries flown in from Waimea on the island of Hawaii. Ba-le Bakery is there every week; Whole Foods carries their specialty breads. So are several farms which sell to restaurants, not retail markets. There is sweet corn from Ewa, papaya from Kahuku. There are fresh greens from Waimanalo, even small boxes of edible flowers in brilliant purples, reds and yellows, adding color to a green salad. Sea asparagas, crunchy and salty with a definite after-taste. The green onions are 2' long, watercress about the same. An infinite variety of tomatoes looked wonderfully ripe, and the summer avocadoes are ready to eat. Gardenias are on 8" stems and so fragrant you can smell them as you approach the booth -- far larger and sweeter than any in California. Bunches of anthuriums in shades of green, pink, orange and red are displayed in 5-gallon buckets. Orchids in full bloom, purple, lavender, burgandy, white, green, lemon-yellow, brilliant gold, filled at least two booths.

Mother walked the whole thing -- except the small, back, side of one loop. I don't know whether she was tired, or thought she had already been there. Never mind. She walked, and she enjoyed herself. Exercise for the day. We will try to go at least once a month. Especially while tomatoes are in season!

Give thanks for the farmers who provide our food. Don't forget to pray!

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