Dissing the New Co-op

Dissing the New Co-op

“It feels just like a Whole Foods now,” some complain.

“I prefer Putney,” others say. “That’s a real Co-op.”

What is a real Co-op, I wonder? BFC is the only Co-op that I’ve ever intimately known, and in my 20 years in Vermont, I’ve seen it undergo some pretty radical changes.

Lucky for me, I love all things new. New people. New places. New spaces. But change on this large of a scale is challenging.

I miss the old-old-old kids room. By the front door. With the slide. But I could see how a kids room near an exit could be a misfit. I was especially glad when they moved it a third time–away from the added noise of the smoothie blenders. I come upon the kids room in the new Co-op yet, but I keep hearing about it. That’s how gigantic the new store is.

We all like to complain, don’t we? Especially when we’re anxious.

A bunch of us are complaining about the cheese department, but we’re also thrilled about the sliced cheese in the deli and the promise of pizza. Heck, I’m overjoyed that I don’t have to wait for someone to pour my chai anymore.

Some people say that they might as well shop at Price Chopper or Hannafords, that there’s no difference, especially since they have “natural food” selections too.

For me the greatest difference has always been the cereal aisle. I hardly ever have to fight with my kids in the Co-op.  Generally there’s not going to be candy masquerading as breakfast.

“We own the Co-op, right Mom?” they ask.

“Yep,” I say.

Now that’s a difference that makes ALL the difference.

Kelly Salasin, July 2012

Advertisements
Retrospective Reluctance

Retrospective Reluctance

Now that 2011 is behind us, I’d like to skip the retrospective and forget that there ever was a fire or a murder  or a flood; But the stores are still closed on Main Street, and Michael Martin’s sister just posted on my blog, and MacArthur is not the road it once was.

I search on the internet and the find that the only thing new about Richard is my own writing on this blog. What’s happening? It’s been almost half a year. Wouldn’t it be convenient to imagine Richard never existed?

But then I think about the Martins. How are they moving forward? How important is the trial to them? When is the trial?

(I was just called for jury duty; but not for a criminal case–Thank God.)

Yesterday, I came upon a poem about being in prison. My son was home sick and asked if I’d read to him while he ate his soup. I picked up the book that I found at the Marlboro Book Swap last year, and blew off the dust. I had intended to read excerpts from A Call to Character on a regular basis, but the practice died long ago.

“Let’s find something about kindness,”I say.

My son smirks with embarrassment.  Just a moment earlier he snapped at me in that sardonic “tween-age” fashion.  In my best NVC, I let him know it stung. With his big heart, it pains him to know that he’s hurt me, even if he can’t help himself.

“Darn, there’s no section on Kindness, only Compassion” I say. “But you’ve got plenty of that.”

“Read anything,” he says, delighted to have me seated beside him all day.

I flip through the stories and plays and fables, and a poem catches my eye in the Self-discipline category. I begin reading… to myself.

“Read aloud,” my son begs.

“This one is about being in jail; I don’t think you’ll like it.”

“Read it,” he says; and so I proceed:

Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison

...To wait for letters inside,
to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
                              is sweet but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget your age,
watch out for lice
                       and for spring nights,
       and always remember
              to eat every last piece of bread--
also, don't forget to laugh heartily.
And who knows,
the woman you love may stop loving you.
Don't say it's no big thing:
it's like the snapping of a green branch
                                             to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors.
I mean, it's not that you can't pass
        ten or fifteen years inside
                                       and more--
               you can,
               as long as the jewel
               on the left side of your chest doesn't lose its luster!

(Nazim Hikmet)

Kelly Salasin, January 2012

ps. My apologies to those of you who clicked the link to MacArthur Rd above. I couldn’t help myself. That song won’t leave my mind today, especially as it rains on top of our long-awaited snow.

Tuesday, again

Tuesday, again

In exactly two weeks, “BFC Tragedy” climbs its way to the top of the list of writing topics on the sidebar of this Vermont blog–from a tiny thing at the bottom, to where it sits now–boldface, beside the prominent category of “Autumn.”

In retrospect, I wish I’d tagged this collection “BFC Healing” instead of “tragedy,” but at the time I never imagined that so much compassion would flow from murder.

Two weeks.

Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime passed since the Co-op mutated from haven to hell in an instant?

Somehow I find myself back here on a Tuesday; and this time it’s definitely easier; though I’m taken aback to see a baby in the cafe.  A baby.

Earlier this afternoon I passed tourists at the corner of Elliott and Main–two moms and a young son looking for a place to eat. I recommended the Co-op; and then wondered if I’d made a mistake.  If I was visiting, would I want to take my kids there?

I’ve left my own kids at home, but my husband has accompanied me again. I watch with tenderness as he approaches one Co-op staffer after another to offer an embrace or a pat on the shoulder.

I feel too shy to do the same, and wish I could wear a button that says, “I gave at my blog.”

“At least go see Tony in the wine department,” my husband says, over a bowl of soup.

Instead I suggest that I come back with cookies or candy–something easier to share than sentiment.

Perhaps the staff has grown weary of compassion anyway, I argue internally.  Maybe they’re trying to move on.  But the truth is that my biggest concern is that they would feel that we’ve moved on–without them.

Whenever I’m faced with uncertainty around connecting with those in grief, I think back to my friend Trish whose 18 year old brother was killed in an accident the summer we all worked together at the shore.  Everyone at the Crab House was heartbroken, but they avoided talking about Tommy so as not to make it harder on Trish.

Finally I asked her. “Does it make it worse when I talk about him?”

“No,” she answered. “I couldn’t feel any worse, and he’s on my mind all the time.”

Maybe it’s that way for everyone at the Co-op. Maybe this tragedy is always on their minds whether we acknowledge it or not.

I wonder how long it will take until I walk into that store and it’s no longer on mine.

Kelly Salasin, August 23, 2011

For more on BFC Tragedy, click here.

(ps. As I was leaving the Co-op, I saw those two moms and their young son, and they thanked me for the “great recommendation.”)

A poem for Michael Martin

A poem for Michael Martin

Last night I attended a benefit concert, thinking that cello and piano and poetry would soothe my weary soul from the events of the past month–from my son’s diving accident, to my best friend’s car accident, to the tragedy in Brattleboro.

I had been writing incessantly for over a week since the shooting at the Co-op, and with my latest post, I felt that I might be finished.  Instead, I found my anguish stirred rather than soothed by last night’s performance, particularly when the poetry of the Romanian poet Eminescu was read.

detail, Dore, visipix.com

Unto the Star

‘Tis such a long way to the star
Rising above our shore
It took its light to come so far
Thousands of years and more.

It may have long died on its way
Into the distant blue
And only now appears its ray
To shine for us as true.

We see its icon slowly rise
And climb the canopy;
It lived when still unknown to eyes,
We see what ceased to be.

And so it is when yearning love
Dies into depth of night:
Extinct its flame, still glows above
And haunts us with its light.

~Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)/translated by Adrian Sahlean

Kelly Salasin, August 20, 2011

(To see the full collection of posts and comments on BFC Tragedy, click here.)

The Price of Pain

The Price of Pain

(open clip art)

Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled, “Which Wolf? so named after the Cherokee story which asks us to ask ourselves:

Which wolf do I feed?

I love the surprise ending of that story, and the affirmation that as a “good” girl, I’ve spent most of my life feeding the wolf described as:  “joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

But I’ve learned that there is a cost to ignoring the “bad” wolf inside, with its feelings of: “Anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

When I feed “good” feelings, while neglecting “bad” ones,” I create imbalance, and in this imbalance, I suffer or make others suffer.

If I had to describe a “battle” inside, I wouldn’t place it between good and evil, but between”presence” and “separation.” When I am “present” or aware of what is inside, that which is called “evil” softens and drains, and thus creates even more space for that which is called “good.”

Which makes me wonder, was Richard’s act a result of feeding the wrong wolf or of ignoring it?

~

Kelly Salasin, August 16, 2011

To read more on the Brattleboro Food Co-op tragedy, click here.

JUSTICE

JUSTICE

After five days, I find myself hating Richard for what he has inflicted upon us. I can’t imagine what the family and friends of Michael Martin feel.

If justice was ours, how might we enact it? I scan my brain, seeking appropriate acts of restitution, but can find none for a life taken.

I think back to a lecture given in Marlboro by the author Kim John Payne. Though the focus was on education, Kim shared a story about the Maori tribe in his native New Zealand, telling us how they creatively responded to crime and punishment.

Rather than lock two young men behind bars for stealing a car, the men had to face the victim of their crime–a single mother, who was unable to get to work or attend school due to the loss. Alternately, the “court” of community members heard the stories of these two young men, how their lives led to the crime, and how it affected them.

Each party–the young men and the single mother–had someone from the community, beside them–not so much to speak, but to support. Others spoke too, on behalf of both, and the “trial” went on for hours as they did.

In the end, the local grocer stood up and offered these two men work so that they could afford to repay the woman for the hours she lost at work and to pay for her transportation to school while her car was being repaired.  Additionally, the local mechanic offered his services so that only the parts would be charged.

There were more voices in this story, and I may have mistaken some of the details, but what I remember most was what happened after the “trial.” The men were asked to stand on what might be a town green, and the community members each circled past them offering praise for their restitution. No one spat or cursed or otherwise separated these men from the community in which they belonged.

How would the Maori deal with murder, I wonder?  What acts of restitution would arise from the mouths of the community?  For surely Richard, despite his abhorrent act, still belongs.

Kelly Salasin, August 14, 2011

for more on the Brattleboro Co-op Tragedy, click here