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Night Shopping

October 30, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was the first Saturday in a while where I haven't run out of something while I was baking. I had stocked up Thursday night, and what a trip that was. See, this past Thursday was the night of the Hunter's Moon, about the brightest moon you can imagine. It was closer to the earth than it has been or will be all year, which explains why I could see the Hansons' farm at 10 p.m. from the bathroom window and why Mr. Sundberg didn't need a flashlight to check out the noise out around the woodpile about that same time, and why, after I climbed into bed and finished the last three pages of I Will Not Die an Unlived Life and picked up the Reader's Digest and finished that, too, I just wasn't all that tired. So I got up and got dressed, found my purse and a light jacket, and went into the bedroom where Mr. Sundberg lay sound asleep. I'm going out for a while, I whispered. Be back in a bit. Before he grunted and rolled on over, I was out the door.

The clock in the car read 10:47 p.m. as I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store. A fifteen minute drive, and here I was — Night Shopping. Not much at all like shopping in the day. It's peaceful at night. They turn the lights down. You can hear music from somewhere above, and the few store employees are humming along and up for a chat, and it's really all very pleasant. There are no children hollering for their mothers, and no one ramming their cart into yours, and no entourages of teenagers roaming the aisles. You can compare cake mixes and think about tea, and there's no one in the way if you have it in your head to rev things up and ride your cart down Aisle #4. "I'm Peter Pan!" you might call out, and there's no one around to hear.

No, just a few people here and there, hungry waitresses and nurses on their way home from work, squeezing in a bit of shopping while they still have some energy. Single men with short lists who always shop at night, for groceries and for Mrs. Right, because you just never know. Older men, married, who need to get out of the house, who need a place to wander where there's cheese, and herring, and applesauce with sugar, the way applesauce is supposed to be. And an elderly woman looking for acetaminophen, and two young guys with a cart full of pop and chips. There was one couple, come to think of it, arm in arm, strolling along behind a cart and gazing at each other. Newlyweds, I'm guessing. There were strawberries in the cart, and four large croissants, and a slab of rare, expensive cheese, and mineral water. And two raspberry Bismarcks. Hmm.

I could have spent the night there on the bench by the door, watching night shoppers pass on by. But I didn't. I headed out into the cool night and drove home along moonlit roads and carried in all eleven bags on tiptoes without waking a soul. It was nearly 2 a.m. when I folded up the last grocery bag. I poured half a glass of ginger ale and sat myself down on the back steps for a minute or two and thought about how it takes all kinds of people to make a world, and how everything was glowing — trees and pole sheds and hay bales and trucks. What a piece of work, I said out loud, to no one in particular. And then I headed on up to bed, where Mr. Sundberg lay, still sleeping soundly in the light of the moon.

Oatmeal Humdingers

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 t vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

3 cups oats

raisins, 1 cup, optional

(or throw in a cup of butterscotch chips)

Mix. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 10 minutes or so.

Makes about 4 dozen.


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