Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Community Along the Roadside

An old man sold used bikes off Pontaluna road. Hidden behind a mesh of Norwegian spruce, behind thin maples and a rotting wood fence, an small white clapboard sided home down a gravel driveway. Along the road a row of bikes and a hand painted sign "Bikes For Sale". Ten speeds, mountain bikes, childrens bikes, dirt bikes. Every day. All day.

Drive down the dirt road past rows and rows of bikes in ascending size, a repetition of shape with varience of size and color. A pile of rusted bike parts and wheels blend with the woods behind the garage, and a massive oak is draped with hundred, maybe thousands of drooping bicycle innertubes.

Approaching the home, out of the car, turn to the home and knock on the door and wait. Knock again and wait.


And then a voice. An old man sitting, almost molded into in a frayed easy chair in his garage.

"You want a bike?"

He shuffled down the gravel driveway over to the bikes, guided us through the rows of childrens' bikes, and helped us pick out and size a bike four our 4 year old. Then he shuffled back to his green, threadbare easy chair. He asked for $8.

Today I drove along Apple avenue and passed a roadside vegetable stand overflowing with squash, cabbages, bushels of tomatoes outside a small white clapboard sided home down a gravel driveway. I turned around and pulled up, ready to put my dollar or two into a can to buy a butternut squash.

A tiny old woman in a red threadbare easy chair surprised me as I walked up, asking me "You want squash?" I couldn't quite make out her accent.

"Yeah!" I said "I'm looking for butternut squash"

"They a dollar fifty each" she said "How much you have?"

I reached into my pocket and pulled out three dollars, and said "I have three dollars"

"I sell them for a dollar each." She said. I looked down at the squash with tape on it reading "$1.50"

"Sounds good to me."

We talked for a bit about butternut squash recipes, then she saw me eyeing up a peck of potatoes "Those a dollar also." She reached over and pulled on out and cut into it, reveaing a creamy yellow interior "See? Very good potatoes"

We talked about her land. Her farm. The growing season. She bagged up my $2 worth of produce and with wrinkled hands smelling strongly of tobacco she handed me two tomatoes. "Here." She said "I have too many tomatoes."

We talked a bit more. She lives alone with her dogs. She buys whole cows and freezes the meat, and feeds her dogs T bone steak...they eat what she eats.

Tonight, I'm making potato and butternut squash soup.

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