May 14, 2007

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

Grocery shopping often feels like a pointless task. I drive to the store, fill a cart until it's overflowing, pile the food into my car, drive home, and then honk the horn until the kids come out and unload the car. We put everything away into the refrigerator and cupboards, and then – about ten minutes later – all of that food has disappeared into the guts of ravenous teenagers, and the whole process needs to be repeated. In fact, most of the time, it's not even worth my effort to put the food into the cupboard. It's just easier to let the kids tear into the food while it's still piled on the counter.

This week, I thought of bringing my camera to the grocery store to take some cool photos of produce like other bloggers do. Then I thought about the conservative community I live in. Most people in the community already think I'm crazy – I am a feminist, a poet, a liberal – but I would be elevated to a new level of weird if they caught me snapping photos of fruit. I'd become She Came From a Such Nice Family but Now She Takes Photos in THE GROCERY STORE. I was willing to risk my reputation, making that sacrifice for my blog, but then it occurred to me that there's not enough natural light in the store for my point-and-shoot camera.

The one part of grocery shopping I do like is the chance to find out what is going on in the lives of the people in my community. Saturday, for instance, I ran into QuietMan in the parking lot. He and I have known each other since ninth grade. His kids are in school with my kids, and he recently went through a difficult divorce. He told me where his oldest would be going to college in the fall. "I'm going to have a kid in college, " he said to me, "That makes me feel old."

"We are old," I said to him, and he laughed.

In the produce section, I saw an older woman I've known for years; I went to elementary school with her daughter. She was checking cantaloupes to see which ones were ripe: apparently this process involves lifting up each piece of fruit and smelling it. She gave her dramatic news: she sold her house this week. I thought maybe she would feel sad about leaving the house where she raised her nine kids, but she seemed excited about moving into a small apartment with no maintenance. Her husband is dead, her kids are grown up, and she wants to do some traveling.

In the frozen food aisle, I heard someone call my name. It was Blonde Niece. With her were Red-haired Niece and her boyfriend, who had come in from Big City Like No Other for the weekend to see some of their friends graduate.

My nieces had their silky hair pulled back in pony tails. Both were wearing skimpy t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. "You two look alike today!" I exclaimed. With the same movement, they recoiled, looking at each other in horror. Apparently, no one likes to be told she looks like her sister, no matter how beautiful that sister is.

Red-haired Niece talked a bit about her job; she teaches at one of those progressive pre-schools where rich people send their kids. She said she's definitely coming home for my brother's wedding in July. "A family wedding! We haven't had one of those in a long time."

By the time I had finished talking to everyone I knew in the store, my grocery cart was full. I chatted with the kid at the checkout about the AP exam he would be taking on Monday, piled the cartons and bags into my car, and drove home with fruit, veggies, and news.

Fruit

A picture of fruit, taken in the privacy of my own home. Because only crazy people take photos of fruit in public.

21 comments:

BrightStar said...

Even your trips to the grocery store are fun... *sigh*

Also.... fruit is cool. I like your photo.

Linda said...

Great photo, but that fruit looks a little...well...used. Maybe that's why people take photos in the grocery store. ;-)

Ianqui said...

It's OK if you take the pictures in farmers markets. Do you have any in the summer?

Also, if you want to come to Big City Like No Other, no one will care at all. (Though I've only done it in Trader Joe's, and not in the nasty but normal Gristedes.)

jo(e) said...

Ianqui: Yeah, I've thought of taking photos at the farmers' market once we start getting local produce in season here. It's mostly outside so there would be natural light. I wish I had a better camera though.

PPB said...

fruit is cool. And I think you should take pictures of fruit in your grocery store. You really think this would pull you over the edge? fruit photos?

jo(e) said...

PPB: Yeah, I wasn't kidding. People would honestly think I'm nuts. I mean, they think that anyhow, but now they'd have proof.

The main thing that stopped me, though, was the lack of natural light. My cheap camera can really only handle certain kinds of light. And the flash is broken. That's why all my photos are taken outside or near a window, and either in the early morning or the late afternoon.

Seeking Solace said...

What a great story. I usually send my husband out on Monday nights so I can take the dog to playgroup. Neither one of us likes grocery shopping, but we have found that Monday nights are great becasue the store is not busy. Plus, the dog gets his to visit with his friends. That make my husband and I one happy couple!

Yankee T said...

People didn't bat an eye when I pulled out my camera at the farm last month. But they were already shaking their heads at all the lapel buttons on my denim jacket.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Love the photo!

And your brother is remarrying? Is that a good thing? Congratulations!

BeachMama said...

Love the photo! Your trips to the grocery store sound so much more fun than mine. I rarely see anyone I know and when I do, it is usually just a 'hi' and we continue on our way. That is the only thing that I don't like about living in a larger community, it is really hard to stop for a minute and say 'hi'.

BerryBird said...

As you well know, my Mom is one of those crazies photographing fruit in the grocery store, only her case is very advanced and it goes far beyond fruit. I was with her once last year in a local Wegmans and we were accosted by an extremely hostile manager threatening to throw us out of the store if the camera wasn't immediately sheathed.

jo(e) said...

Pilgrim: Yes, my brother is remarrying -- it's someone he knows from high school. They were both widowed at about the same time.

Berrybird: That kind of behavior is what I love about your mother! She never worries about what anyone thinks.

landismom said...

I'm sorry, I must confess: the whole time I was reading this post, I was fantasizing about going to the grocery store and NOT being asked to buy cereal with Spiderman or Sponge Bob on it. Sigh...

jo(e) said...

landismom: I spent so many years shopping with small children that I still find myself turning to the grocery cart and saying things like, "Do you want to help me pick out the apples?"

jar said...

I love the photo. The colors are beautiful.
I know what you mean by the food - and I only have two children.
Also, my husband is not crazy about it if I take photos of bakery cases or a dinner that we are eating. I say that they are works of art.

EA said...

I see what you mean about not bothering to put the food away!
The photo is beautiful. :o)

Rana said...

I had an experience similar to BerryBird's mother, back when I was in college. Grocery store managers really do NOT like people taking pictures in their store for some reason. (Creepily, this guy was following me and my friends around, and if we hadn't seen him and paused before taking a picture, he would have confiscated the roll - which included pictures that had nothing to do with the store.)

But farmer's markets, yes. They're public spaces, and a lot of farmers are proud to have someone admire their work. (I wouldn't take pictures of crafts too closely, though - it makes the sellers suspicious about someone poaching their ideas. When in doubt, ask first.)

Mmmm... fruit!

Girl said...

And you wouldn't want to be stopped in the supermarket by an employee wanting to know why you are taking pictures who doesn't believe that you are not a terrorist, but that you just wanted a picture of the fruit in the store.

I may be turned off from photography forever. :(

S. said...

It sounds like your grocery store is like our co-op--the communal backyard fence.

You've taken away one of my illusions by revealing that your camera is cheap--extra kudos for what you coax out of it. (And now I have no excuse not to be taking gorgeous pictures myself!)

kathy said...

Ha! It's a great photo, but that fruit looks half-eaten. There are definitely grapes missing. You weren't kidding about how fast food goes in your house.

Amelie said...

hm -- I wonder if I qualify as a weirdo because I want to take pictures at the market? Fruit, sure, maybe fish too. For a disguise I'd probably go to the big and famous market downtown where there are lots of tourists so that it's not immediately evident just how weird I am.