Retail shopping is a little like ingesting large amounts of sugar. Meandering aisles stocked floor to ceiling with shiny new somethings of every color and purpose, all screaming “You need me! You want me! Take me home!” does something strange to the brains of persons who have been away from such experiences for so long, defenses have become a bit shaky, and you find yourself with the mad urge to throw a tantrum like the unseen toddler in the aisle just over. Yes, my cart overfloweth, but I want that too!
But here, in my neck of the Vermont woods, such shopping experiences are difficult to come by. Vermont is very beautiful. It’s villages tout main streets from Norman Rockwell posters. I shop local as much as I can. As our town is larger than some, it sports a lovely local artist’s collective, a Rite Aid, an Ace Hardware store, a car dealership, a Shaw’s grocery store, and the ubiquitous Dollar Store (where one can find unnecessary plastic items of every purpose known to mankind)…but there are times, (and the beginnings of school years are such), that only a big, warehouse style, multi-department, retail establishment, aproned by acres of neat, white-painted stalls for parking your car, will do. For my Oregonian friends, I was in need of a Fred Meyer’s. The closest thing here is Target. The nearest Target is an hour across the Connecticut River. So with a rainy day in the forecast, Herb and I clambored into the CMax, and headed to Keene, a New Hampshire city, offering the closest experience in true retail saturation one can find in SE Vermont.
The scenic highway along the river gave way to two lane roads. Stop lights and arrowed direction signs, then (gasp)..MERGING lanes appeared. Finally, one trip around a roundabout and a few false turns later, it loomed before us, the iconic Target red dot! After only circling the lot a few times, we selected our very own place to park. A short walk later, the big metal and glass doors yawned open to welcome us in. And just inside…. to my fancy-coffee-deprived-soul’s delight, was a Starbucks! With a caramel macchiato and my shopping list in hand, we wandered up each and every aisle in Target. Found the elusive cloth shower curtain we needed, but not the percale sheets. Found the on-sale markers, but not the hanger thingie that attaches to the metal braces of classroom dropped ceilings. We laughed out loud at silly office supplies and pondered the need for kitchen gadgetry of all sorts, settling on a splatter screen and a lidded-reheatable mug perfect for taking leftovers to school for lunch. One Target, one Michael’s, a Home Depot, and J&J’s Discount (for that impossible to find classroom plant hanger)…oh and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission…(they have the most West Coast wines)…we found my list exhausted, our brains on traffic and plastic object overload…and the CMax so bursting to the gills it had a momentary eco-challenged burp, and was not able to show us even a single growing leaf on its screen.
Late in the afternoon, we stopped at Five Guys for lunch (Great burgers, but next time we will share a small fry…the large is…well gargantuan). As we steered the car towards home another round of gentle rain began to fall. The wipers slapped a comforting rhythm that soothed our weary souls. What-a-day. There is a satisfaction like no other that comes with being in possession of a shopping list that is almost completely crossed off. But I have to say, after all the noise and color and people and traffic…those misty green mountains welcoming us at the end of the long bridge back into Vermont were very easy on our eyes.