FOOD SHOPPING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS
By Katherine Wangh
I am waiting to pick up some boxes of food at Russo’s. It is raining. I have been in my car for over an hour, so I have had time to get in touch with my feelings.
I think about not being able to pick out the avocadoes or the bouquet of flowers I like. I think about not being able to debate which vegetables to buy depending on what looks good this week. I think about not being able to look at, touch, and smell all these beautiful fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers.
I have placed my order. Not only are spontaneous choices not possible, but it is also not possible to have spontaneous encounters with other shoppers who come from all parts of the world to buy the fruits and vegetables from their native countries. Conversations between customers usually start with “What is this? How do you eat it or cook it?” No more indulging my curiosity about foods and people in those narrow aisles filled with produce. Instead, I wait patiently in my car for a woman younger than me, wearing a face mask and rubber gloves, to wheel my boxes out in the rain.
Before she reaches my car, I see her throw a huge planter of purple and white pansies onto the cart. I figure this is not my order as I did not order pansies. I am feeling a bit downcast with all the waiting. Then she taps on my window! It is my order! I open the back with the automatic door opener, and she places the boxes inside saying, “I threw in some pansies for you! I hope you like flowers!” Overcome, I say, “Thank you! Thank you so much! Yes, I love flowers!”
Once home, I put on a mask and rubber gloves and unpack the boxes on the deck, washing everything in soapy water. In the background, I seem to hear the soundtrack of anxiety and the fear of death which seems to be playing all day and all night. Admittedly, I have found some ways to distract myself from this music, but I could never have imagined that the best interruption would come today, from a complete stranger, in the form of a spontaneous and cheerful gift of purple and white pansies!
My interests? Music. Art, language, psychology, nature, science, travel. My professions? Teaching preschool and working with children/young adults as a psycho-analytically trained therapist. Married to scientist Larry for over 50 years and now enjoying grandchildren, singing in the Concord Women’s Chorus, curating my father’s artistic legacy, writing, and gardening!
4 thoughts on “QUARANTINE TALES: FOOD SHOPPING BY KATHY WANGH”
What a lovely story – thank you for posting! It’s amazing and wonderful, how unexpected things like the pansies can change the whole texture of your life.
Kathy — I really like your essay. The feelings you express about not being able to make simple choices of food, not seeing them or feeling them or wondering about them with others….Your essay helps me to remember our time together in the writing class, your listening, your keen comments…..Thanks for this essay!
Uplifting! Thank you!
What a surprising gift of pansies. How one good deed out of nowhere can totally change the morning and the affect. What a lovely writing!