I was standing in line at the local Aldi's grocery store. You pay a quarter for your carts, and then when you take the cart from the parking lot back to where they are stored and link the little chain from the cart in front to yours you get that quarter back. It's a great plan. There are never carts left in the parking lot, they don't pay for a 'cart person', carts aren't stolen, or damaged, or damaging vehicles. Such a simple plan, but very effective. I'm much impressed with that. Only one problem. I am forever heading off to Aldi's and discovering that I have bills, or that in that pile of change in my pocket, I don't happen to have a quarter. I could always go in and get change from the cashier, or whatever, but usually, I'm in a rush, walking at a fast clip. More often than not, I'll just head inside to get the few things that I need. Anyways, yesterday, I rushed in, grabbed my half and half, my chicken broth, cheddar cheese, a couple whole wheat baguettes, and a cake mix, and I headed for the line.
There was quite a line, and the elderly woman in front of me saw me standing there with my armload and began to rush to get her groceries loaded on the conveyor so that I could set my things down. I told her not to rush. She clucked a little. "You've got such an arm load I'm afraid you're going to drop something." "No," I assured her. "I'm a mom. I'm used to juggling." And that made both her and the woman behind us laugh out loud. So we began to blab, mostly because I can't stand quietly to save my life, and because I was sure that I knew that elderly lady from somewhere. When I asked her, she timidly said, "You're not that lady that writes in the paper, are you?" and I said yes. She grinned big. "I'm Nancy from the Scandia Church," and I remembered her instantly. There was a flurry of talking then. "Where's Pastor James headed to?" I asked her, and she told me that he was going to Iron City, Michigan. I've been there. It's a town in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
Michigan's upper peninsula is a remote area. I was living in Michigan when the entire peninsula finally received phone service, in the very late eighties. Used to be that they would travel an hour just to use a phone. This was in the old days, before cell phones became ubiquitous. It is a flat heavily wooded area. In the old days it was a mining area. Copper, iron ore. A lot of shipping industry too, being right on Lake Huron. As we passed through Munising in June, we were amazed to see, even still, massive sheets of ice pushed up against some of the banks, standing on their edge, dwarfing the buildings in front of them, a souvenier of a bitterly cold winter. It was the first time in years that Lake Huron, the coldest of all the Great Lakes had actually frozen over, completely.
I finished my visit with Nancy, and I bagged my groceries and headed for the car, daydreaming about Michigan. It is endless fascination to me, other people's lives in other places. When I was younger, I wanted to see everything. I wanted to live everywhere. Now I am 52. It's not practical. My Tim is settled in where he is always going to be, and I love Tim. Our ordinary days pass by in our corner of the world, just as they do for every one else on this planet. I read blogs now, and they usually fulfill that longing in me, but on this day, walking across the parking lot, that restless longing hit me full force, and I envied Pastor James and his family heading off on their new adventure.