… on stepping out with care

Today I headed out into the world, carefully and taking full advantage of hand sanitizer.

Here is what I needed:

  1. Birdseed
  2. Tulips

I know.

It was a really important list, and I’m not kidding.

On Saturday, my shyest of bird friends – a beautiful little female Morning Dove – paraded past the office’s french doors (they look out to the gardens that are now quite drab but will be filled with spring’s new greens and blooms soon enough). She walked by once… and then back again… and then walked right up to the door and looked inside, channeling her wish effortlessly.


I responded by filling the feeders, making a mental note that I was low on birdseed.

‘TheTrueValue’ – purveyor of most everything, including birdseed – is off peninsula, some 28 minutes away (I am not confirming, nor denying, a reference from Google Maps to get that accuracy). This means that, usually, I would wait until I had several more items to get before heading over to The True Value.

But… dove.

So off I went this morning.

I made a quick stop at the local Dunkin’s (which used to be Dunkin’ Donuts but is now just Dunkin’. I don’t know why. I think it’s all about inclusiveness for the other foods, which is cool I suppose, but I don’t understand what I would dunk beyond my donuts. Sausage sandwiches don’t taste good dunked in coffee. Fakeveganbeef croissants don’t taste good dunked in coffee. I don’t get it….) Wait. Where was I?


Our Dunk’s (hey, if they can shorten it, we can shorten it) is a takeout facility and, today, a handful of customers maintained a bit of distance, but we did exchange smiles and ‘good mornings’. I touched nothing but my cup, and used hand sanitizer once I got back in the driver’s seat.

Today is a beautiful, bright, sunny day on Maine’s midcoast.

I aimed my truck in our chosen direction, and began to follow the road. Almost immediately, I realized I was in one of those gratitudinal zones, enjoying every minute of the drive’s curves and undulations.

My trip ‘through the woods’ eventual morphed into ‘over the river’ – the Sheepscot River, that is – as I headed across, and through the village of Wiscasset.

Soon I was pulling into the parking lot of TheTrueValue.

There was a woman just in front of me who calmly took an antibacterial wipe from a container hanging by the carriages. I waited, a now-respectful distance away, as she wiped down her carriage. We smiled at each other and said “Good morning.”

When it was my turn, I took a wipe and rubbed it along the handle of my own cart before depositing it in a provided bin.

As I turned to walk down an aisle, my eyes landed on – no I am not kidding – a display of toilet paper. It wasn’t hundreds of packages or anything, but a nice pile of ‘four packs’ stacked one on top of another, with a sign in front that said “Limit 3 Per customer. Play nice with each other”.

Having a few rolls left at home, I made a mental note that I’d pick up a pack – one – on my way out. I made my way to the back of the store and, along the way, I saw one of TheTrueValue’s employees approaching a woman who was looking closely at a shelf.

“What don’t you see?” she asked

“Hand sanitizer. I only need one.” The customer, a woman who looked to be about seventy, said. She added, “For my car.”

The True Value woman said, “We don’t have any left…”

The other woman sort of sank.

TheTrueValue woman wore a smile, and continued, “BUT, we do have all the ‘ingredients’ up front. And the recipe! If you can make a cup of tea, you can make your own sanitizer. When you’re ready, come up and find me – or ask anyone who works here – and they’ll show you. It’s really just rubbing alcohol and gel, you can add a little of this or that for scent. All you do is…”

I smiled as I walked past.

I loved that.

“What don’t you see?”

It was such a cool way to offer help during such a strange and potentially fearful time.

I ran across some single rolls of toilet paper in the back of the store, and decided a couple of those would be enough for me. I got a package of paper towels too, having just received a text from JoHn that we were running low.

And then I happily put three big bags of birdseed into my cart (because there was plenty on the shelves).

Getting ready to check out, I ended up running into the woman – Margaret – who needed the hand sanitizer. She had the alcohol and aloe vera gel in her cart, along with a little spray bottle. She said she was happy to have the spray bottle because she’d always wanted a reason to get one. I found that strange and kind of awesome, so tucked it into my mental ‘win’ column).

Some days, we will see something that will strike us as a ‘Big Wonder’, like isolating Italians coming out onto their balconies to sing, or clap, or play beautiful music at 6 p.m.

And other days, we might climb into our cars, heading to the local hardware store for birdseed. And we’ll happen upon a kind woman helping a grateful one figure out how to make her own hand sanitizer. Also? The recipe will require a spray bottle (and that will make someone’s day).

“What don’t you see?”

Make sure it isn’t the small wonders.

Thanks for readin’.

p.s., I did find some tulips. I often pick up some flowers, if we are having friends to dinner. These days, as we isolate ourselves to give our healthcare workers and fellow humans critical time (and, hopefully, recovery), I figure JoHn and I are each others’ special guests right now (which has been a nice reminder that we always are).

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