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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Counting Our Blessings

The last time I picked wild plums, there were four of them ripe all at the same time. Count them, four!

Bow enjoys the wild plums much more than I do. He savors them. He takes a bite and then examines what is left, and he eats some more, and then he studies the pit.

When Bow has four blackberries to eat, they just tumble into his mouth all at once, and they are gone. But if Bow has four wild plums, it takes a while.

This past weekend I had occasion to visit the closest mall with my daughter and her friend for a birthday shopping spree. But for me, there was nothing in the stores that I wanted to buy. The mall was full of clothing outlets, jewelry stores, perfumeries, and confectioner's shops. And there were people in the middle of it all hawking baseball cards. I went into a lot of stores and saw nothing that I wanted, and so eventually I sat down and played with my phone, looking at old pictures.

Sitting outside the mall
When I was younger, my favorite three stores to visit at the mall were the bookstore, the toy store and the pet store. But there were no bookstores at the mall, anymore. There was no pet store. And the only thing that could pass for a toy store was the Build-a-Bear Workshop. Gone were the old fashioned toy shops displaying all sizes and shapes of dolls in beautiful clothing, toy trains, hobby airplanes or wooden wagons and rocking horses. That is a thing of the past. But there were flies. Everywhere you went, flies swarmed. What is the role of flies in a modern, air-conditioned mall?

Nobody spoke to me, except one little old lady who sat on a bench next to me at one point. She started off the conversation saying there was nothing in the stores worth buying. I agreed. She said they were sparkly things of no value. I agreed. Then she asked: "Do you know Jesus?" Oh, dear. I always attract religious fanatics. I don't know why. She handed me her tract.

Vacuum County

Whenever someone tries to sell me something, I try to sell them something back. So I told her about my novel Vacuum County, which is based on the Biblical story of Nabal the Carmelite. We started talking about David and Samuel and Saul, and the meeting with the witch at Endor. My new acquaintance told me that there are some things in the Old Testament that don't make sense to us, because some other books have been left out. For instance, the reason Saul was required to execute all the civilians, including women and children and cattle, he captured (I Samuel 15: 2-3, 20) -- was because they were really descended from demons. "I don't go in for killing people just because of their race," I told her, and she shook her head at me. Obviously, if they were descended from demons, that's completely different.

That is what is called "demonizing the enemy." We are still doing it today. But as much as I don't share the woman's views on genocide, I had to agree with her that our economy is doomed.  I love material things, and I used to like going to the mall. But none of the material things offered at the mall now have any attraction for me. I'd rather go shopping for material things on my own property.

A hidden purple cone flower
Every day I discover hidden treasure, like this lone purple cone flower that grew up out of nothing by the lagoon.

It is past the season for coneflowers, and I did not plant any. But here it is.  Or how about these rose pinks out in the pasture?

Or this strange creature on a black-eyed Susan?

If I devote enough time to the task, I can even come back with enough blackberries for dessert.

Sure, there are insects out there vying with me for the blackberries, but they are much more colorful and interesting than the flies in the mall. So at the moment, at the risk of sounding devout, I am actually counting my blessings.


  1. The malls used to be fun. I remember the great toy stores, but I had not walk around the entire mall to see if we still have one. I think we do, but the quality of the toys in it was not the best, from what I heard. These days I find if I order clothes I am doing it online more from Amazon. Working on mturk is kind of cool because I can use my earnings to buy stuff.

    1. I buy books online, but it is hard to tell with clothes whether they will fit, so we still buy clothes in person. I am glad mturk is working for you. It must be neat to earn money you can spend right on Amazon.

  2. I hate the malls - they're just no fun anymore. Everything - I mean EVERYTHING is way over priced in the malls. I still like some of the old faithful stores there - Macy's, JCPenney, and one or two others when I need to buy clothes for my job / travel, but that's it.
    The rose pinks, blackberries and wild plums are having a banner year here also!

    1. Glad to know that I and the mall soothsayer are not the only ones who feel this way, Kathy!