I’ve been going to the same green grocer on my street for 13 years. It’s a lovely family-run business with fresh produce, the best berries and basic staples.
The owner is a lovely woman a few years older than me. In the pandemic, our exchanges were often my only face-to-face adult conversation not on a screen. We both slowed down to make small talk more meaningful. We asked each other about children and work. I learned about her family in Lebanon and her dream to go see the Atlantic Ocean. Her truisms stayed with me as I left with my backpack of veggies: “Keep smiling my dear.” or “We are lucky to live in Canada.”
I was worried a small business like hers wouldn't make it with restrictions, inflation and supply chain issues. But she did. We still make time for conversation. Often she gets a knife and cuts me a golden sliver of ataulfo mango or drops a fresh fig into my bag.
“You must eat this.” Curt and pleasant directions. She is always right. I must eat this now while it is ripe and ready.
Today when I went in there to grab a few things for dinner, she admitted to being tired.
It’s been a challenging year. As she rang in my sweet potatoes and honey crisp apples, she shared how she gets through it.
“At the end of the day, I look in the mirror and say ‘I did it’ and then I kiss my own hand. Do it. Tonight. Kiss your hand. It tells you to be proud.”
As I left the store, I found myself thinking about that small act of self-tending. So I did it. Looking in the mirror and kissing my hand made me pause and reflect. What am I proud of? What am I grateful for? Perhaps it is harvest season or Thanksgiving but that moment made me take stock and notice what came up. A small way to check-in. Try it. If nothing else, it will make you smile. Promise.