Press-Republican

Pinch of Time

September 11, 2013

Simpler times remembered fondly

I sometimes get upset with myself when I’m at the grocery-store checkout and remember that I forgot my canvas shopping bags at home.

How many times have I done that? More than I care to admit.

We lived in England for a year when I was about 11. One of the memories I have of that time is taking a reusable shopping bag or woven rattan shopping basket to the market with me (and riding home on a double-decker bus). I had the prettiest basket, kind of oval in shape, that fit nicely on my arm.

Coming from America, I have to admit that I resented the English village markets for not packing your groceries in paper bags. I would begrudgingly drag along my basket and help my mother or grandmother, who also had their own baskets.

Each item on the shopping list was as fresh as fresh could be. Fruits and vegetables were brought in from the villages outside the marketplace, fresh to the green grocer’s stand; meats were cut before our eyes at the butcher shop; medicines were mixed at Boot’s the Chemist while we waited.

We didn’t do all our shopping on the same day. We’d buy only whatever it was we needed for the next couple of days. If we bought then as we do now, we’d need 14 arms and legs to haul it all home.

We lived with my grandparents, intending to get our own house if we decided to stay in England. (We didn’t because it was such a drastic change in lifestyle from Westville.) My grandmother would send somebody to the “top of the road” to pick up a freshly baked loaf of bread.

When I would drive past Bouyea Baking in Plattsburgh, in the 1980s when they baked bread on-site, that aroma would instantly transport me back to being 11 years old in England and going to the bakers. I still love the smell of bread baking in the oven.

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