Friday was the kind of day beckoning a toasty hat, and if you left it behind your ears would wonder why. I’ll be honest. Climate change does concern me. But seeing more green grass than snow this winter was appeasing — and particularly when approaching the age where snow is more perilous than pleasant. The dry but blustery 10 degree cold made it the kind of day I didn’t want to pump my own gas yet the car cried empty.
I’m not suggesting I’m declining or even readying retirement but I am a “boomer.” I grew up when a full service gas station meant getting windows washed — front and back, and an oil check with a tank of gas. As a bonus, they might even check and fill the tires’ air pressure. Those almost forgotten services exist only in memory and especially on a frigid day.
When I pulled up to the fuel pump at the Gas & Food Express, the young guy gingerly attended my car and the one across the island. Whether he was a Young Millennial or Gen Y, I couldn’t tell nor how he could stand the cutting cold. Hopefully that tiny booth for the cash register blasted heat. His medium-weight jacket looked anemic to me knowing I shivered walking 40 feet from home to car.
Contemplating how he felt working a shift in the below freezing temps, I wished I had a hot drink to offer. Instead, I reached into my purse and handed him a few bucks with the signed credit card receipt. “Thank you for being so pleasant on a very cold day,” I said. “Please get yourself a hot drink.”
“Well, thank you. Thank you, miss,” he responded.
Internally echoing cheerful surprise, I wondered if he knew the gift he gave an aging gal.
I find common courtesies previously taken for granted are often passé. Little in-between gestures of human significance make all the difference in a high tech world of downcast eyes and empty idioms such as “Here you go” instead of “Thank you.” It may have been a 10-second interaction but I drove away fueled with appreciation for a new kind of full service.
Opening the compost bin lid reveals decomposing garlic skins, leek greens, maple leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and other unidentifiable by now but formerly salubrious consumables. Dirt from last summer’s potted flowers (probably the water-logged ones that couldn’t withstand the heavy rains) is mixed in. I suppose most would view this as rubbish or waste — something without purpose, and quickly dump it into their Glad bag lined garbage can or down the disposal. But, long-time gardening has unearthed a prismatic perspective for me.
My compost bin is my glad bin you could say. Saving kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable parings, and egg and shrimp shells enhances the soil like nothing else but it also enriches me — and my thinking. These unsightly scraps once endowed delicious meals that contributed to my good health, and will continue to be of benefit. Now they are transforming into nutrient rich soil that will grow my garden full of herbs and vegetables which I will share and eat, and save their parings for the ongoing compost bin. This unattractive, thought-provoking phenomenon is food for thought in its purest form.
Digging deeper and deeper to aerate the compost, I begin seeing below the surface. Nothing is as nothing seems. My thoughts turn to the good in what seems offensive, to the beautiful and nutritious soil that this senescent matter will become, to the duality of the taijitu (yin-yang symbol), that nothing is 100% all good or all bad, and to the stories of people who look like they own nothing but have the most generous hearts. My mind wanders to the elderly who were once young and vibrant, firm and glowing like lemons or frilly and brilliant as carrots but are now devalued and often cast aside because they no longer produce or are too wrinkly or shriveled for our youth worshiping culture to see beyond the outside. I say, “Look below the surface. Unearth those unapparent gems. Nothing is as nothing seems.“