Once a year they come together
To say farewell to summer
The farmers and the teachers
The musicians and the healers.
They pretend it’s a celebration
Like some funerals are said to be
But those of us on this side of 50, know
That life is less a gathering, and more a letting go.
Only moments like this still into perfection
A constellation of MacArthurs brightens into view
Jason in the field
Robin beside the boys
John under the tent…
First his wife, then his children,
and now the grandchildren and great-grandchildren center stage.
The sound of their voices stirs a longing inside for all things eternal
The nursing mother
The father and son embrace
The nail pounding contest
The tea tent
Megan’s fair song.
As Dan’s familiar voice addresses the crowd
I feel a pang inside
For the preciousness of all things yet to pass.
Like these lasts drops of summer
With the poet’s words echoing in the fading light…
I walked through the Co-op tonight for the last time. They’ve started moving without me. We never picked up our mail at the post office this month so we only just discovered that they were closing today at 7:00 pm. For good.
Apparently, they had already moved quite a bit. Every dry good aisle was empty, and it was only the refrigerator and freezer cases that remained stocked. There was a make shift counter in the deli and there we ordered a sandwich in a wrap because there was no more bread. There were no chips either. Except for bags and bags of mesquite bbq ones which obviously need to be discontinued.
We ate our dinner on one of the benches facing the new store in the soft evening sun of early summer. We watched John Hatton, President of the Board, walk back and forth from the old store to the new store and then across the bridge toward Dotties.
Ah, Dotties. That’s the same.
But then again, it isn’t. It hasn’t been around that long. It’s a spring chicken as far as the Co-op goes.
After finishing our wraps, we went to a fabulous movie about aging and India and love and growth. My heart was overflowing by the time it was over, and the new bathroom at Latchis took me by surprise, even though it’s been renovated for quite awhile now.
I miss the old narrow entrance and tight corners of the wooden stalls and tiny porcelain sink. It was terribly impractical and very charming.
I’m getting old. Not quite as old as the brilliant characters in the film, but I’ve been in Vermont long enough to see things really change. Like the Co-op. It’s grown three times since I first started shopping there–almost 20 years ago.
Twenty years! How did that happen?
When I arrived in the Green Mountains from the Jersey Shore, I wasn’t even 30. Since then I’ve watched young children become mothers, and middle-aged friends become elders. I’ve lost some too.
It’s not that I’m nostalgic. I love change. I can’t wait to enjoy the new store. Good riddance to those grimy bathrooms and that over-seated cafe.
And yet, in the passing of the Co-op, and that of old friends, I can feel my own self slipping away. I’m part of all that is passing–because it was once a part of me.