Monday, March 09, 2009

Bay Leaves

"Do you know if these fresh bay leaves will spoil quickly in the refrigerator?" she asked me.
It was late Sunday evening, the market was crowded, and if I didn't hurry, the kids would already be asleep before I got back home.

"I don't know," I said. "I've never bought them before. If you're worried, they probably have dried Bay leaves over in the spice section."

"Well, the last time I was here they didn't have any dried bay leaves," she said.

I didn't know what else to say and I was anxious to get on with my shopping.

She was an older woman with a perfect southern drawl.

She spoke slowly, wistfully almost.

"When I was a young girl," she started, "there was a big branch that bent way over a pond where ducks used to swim."
I took a deep breath.

I willed myself to slow down and listen.
"We used to wander down there by that pond," she said, remembering.
She tilted her head slightly upwards and looked off to her right as she pulled this place from her past into focus.
"When mama was making a soup or stew, she used to send us down to that branch and ask us to pick her a few of those bay leaves. She never did ask us to pick her a whole bunch like this though."
She threw a questioning glance down at the small tub of fresh bay leaves in her hand.

I could read the price. The fresh bay leaves were $1.99.
"Well," I said, trying to be both friendly and comforting, "if you use a few and the rest spoil, the worst thing that can happen is that you'll be out two dollars."
She sighed.
"The thing is," she said putting them back, "I don't have anything to use even one of them for right now."
I understood her then.

She didn't really need a bay leaf, just someone to talk to.

Someone to hear about that pond with the bent over branch, that special place where the ducks once swam.

18 comments:

jeanie said...

Sigh - how beautiful - we all need a few bay leaf moments now and again. It adds to the savour of life, doesn't it?

Tessa said...

Often, someone to talk to is all the elderly need or want. Sometimes it's so hard to slow down and give that to them. You're awesome for having done so! *hugs*

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Then I'm glad it was YOU that she chose.

Mary G said...

What Tessa said. Hugs!

MonsteRawr said...

Sadly, at 23 I know exactly how that old woman feels. I spent last summer in a brand new city where I didn't know a soul. If there was no one on aim and no one I could call, I used to go to Sonic and make conversation with the car hops. Loneliness is powerful; it's lucky that there are kind people like you around to alleviate it.

Magpie said...

I sometimes talk to strangers in the supermarket; usually they think I'm nuts. I'm glad you were there for her.

LSM said...

The world would be a better place if more of us took time to listen to others like you did.

Oh, and those fresh bay leaves will dry on their own in a few days. You can just leave them out on the counter and then take them off the stem and store them in a container in the pantry. A dear colleague where I worked in Houston used to bring us leaves from his tree. I miss him and them!

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

And I only get the grumpy old ladies who HARUMPH! at me when I try to help them get stuff off the hight shelves.

le sigh...

liliannattel said...

I'm glad she could share it with you and that you shared it with us.

The Casual Perfectionist said...

I love this post!

Mary Moore said...

Very touching.

Patience said...

Sometimes, we all need that. And nothing more.

TRS said...

Yep. I talk to people in the supermarket... in TJMaxx - every where. I guess I get that from my dad.

But for me... being single all of my 38 years - I've gotta talk to someone! My friends who are married with kids never have time to talk anymore. They always have to hang up the phone over some small crisis.

Penny said...

You made me cry, right in the middle of my computer lab at school.

thanks for posting. It's important to remember to slow down for people who are lonely, not only because we might/will be there, someday.

Kevin Charnas said...

*big sigh*

that just brought tears to my eyes...

I'm glad that it was you she was talking to.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons why I love you. You know what is important. I was on the el this weekend with my mom and we were sitting separately in a full train & I heard her in the distance talking to a couple of young men and they were bobbing their heads up and down "mmhmm". Then they were looking at me and laughing.There are people that just want to talk and make friends and just want somebody to listen.I have a feeling I will be there one day, and I'll give you a call. --drc

carrie said...

And I'll probably be just like her someday...except minus the charming southern drawl.

Celeste said...

I am glad you were there and listened. thank you for being you.