One of my favorite and least favorite chores is to grocery shop.
I adore the solitude when I'm alone and just try to slug through the list when I'm accompanied by my brood of crazy littles.
The other day, I lucked out and indulged in perusing by my lonesome. To be clear, my desire is not to mosey up and down the packaged food lanes...no, I prefer to linger by the fruits and vegetables...admiring the pink Honey Crisp apples, the red organic raspberries, the bluest of blue blueberries and the multi-hued grape tomatoes. Just beautiful.
Next to the produce live the flowers. My long-time favorite are the tulips. I try to adorn them in my kitchen daily in the springtime. So, to see a patch in the winter brought a huge smile to my face...pinks, purples and a lone apricot colored medley made me want to grab them all.
As I looked up, I noticed a stunning older woman gathering her own floral arrangement. Taller than me, wiry silver hair and thick black frames, bulky cream woolen scarf, I saw her and blurted out..."Aren't they beautiful?"
She looked at me with a blank stare. Feeling a little awkward and wishing that for once, I just hadn't tried to make conversation with everyone I meet, I said..."The flowers...it's so nice to see a splash of color when it's cold outside."
And to that, almost as though she jolted out of her own thoughts, she replied, "Oh yes, dear. There isn't a trip I make without picking up something to have on my window sill...especially during the winter."
Then, because I haven't met a person who isn't my best friend, I continued, "I love that. Maybe someday my budget will allow for weekly, fresh cut flowers in my home. Until then, I'll just have to admire while I'm buying apples, bread and milk. Do you remember those days?"
"Quite well, " she said, "I miss them. I also lament buying my own flowers. My husband brought them home regularly. He's been gone for over a year, so I'm keeping up the tradition on his behalf."
"I'm so sorry," I whispered.
"Oh don't be. Whenever I see sweet young people like you, I just say, enjoy it. All of it. The best years are often the hardest when you look back...which is why flowers are helpful. I guess they remind us to stay in the moment, knowing that in time, they'll die in the vase and be replaced by something new," she said grabbing a bunch.
As she left, I took the apricot tulips and placed them in my cart. Grabbing the cereal, milk and bread, I tried to convince myself to put them back, but I couldn't.
Life's too short. Sometimes, you need a patch of impermanent beauty in the dead of winter to remind you that life in all of its' colorful and dark moments needs to be celebrated.