" … that trailer park experience never leaves her."

No Thanksgiving season passes without The Muse recalling the holidays she spent living in a trailer park outside Fayetteville, Arkansas. However fine her sensibilities today, she's known times when three for a buck box dinners satisfied her hunger, and times when three for a buck seemed too dear to always hope for. The beneficiary of charitable giving, she revels in her present of role as benefactor. So when the local realtor came by the place this week to drop off an empty grocery bag, The Muse's eyes lit up. The note promised that she'd be back after nine thirty the following Saturday, so the deadline was preset. Saturday morning, The Muse was up by five, asking when the supermarket opened. We were out of the house by six, a winter storm gratefully delayed for a promising few hours.

The supermarket aisles were littered with packing boxes as a cadre of clerks restocked shelves for the weekend before Thanksgiving rush.
Some aisles were not conventionally navigable, so I hovered near the end while The Muse sourced the stuff she always insists upon grabbing for the charity drive. She explains what poor people want and need, which means she's mostly entering aisles I never traverse. Boxes of thises and thats we never stock for ourselves. "If you're working two jobs, convenience becomes of primary importance. If you live in a place with limited kitchen access, you don't want a bunch of raw materials." I leave the selecting to her with the superior experience. I try to stay out from underfoot, moving the increasingly over-burdened cart out of the way of the working folks stocking shelves.

We're picking up a few items for ourselves, of course, for our Thanksgiving will come next week, but the bulk of the bulky cart contains stuff for the collection. Box meals, no longer three for a buck but ten for ten now. Rice, masa, and pasta, we strain to imagine recipient preferences and not just buy for ourselves. Cans. We rarely buy canned anything, but The Muse reassures me that canned fish, vegetables, and fruits will be gratefully received. Peanut butter and jelly fit in there, too. A local minister, interviewed on the late local news last night, reported that eighty five percent of the grade schoolers in his neighborhood could not afford to buy lunch at school. When asked what they were grateful for, a few of those grade-schoolers responded that they were thankful for enough to eat, apparently a holiday-quality event for them.

The Muse has been studying with Bradford Keeney, a remarkable man who has lived with many of what we might consider to be the most primitive societies in the world. He gleaned from those experiences a deep appreciation for what he refers to as The Sacred Ecstatic, that sense of joyful playfulness that overtakes one when engaging in deeply resonant action. Stocking the grocery cart for the Thanksgiving food drive qualifies as a Sacred Ecstatic for The Muse.

We were so early to the supermarket that we had to use the self-checkout. The monitor hovered nearby, overriding the stupid checkout machine as I moved excess into waiting boxes. A stock clerk helped me find suitable boxes, and by the time we left the store, we'd convened a small conspiracy supporting us. I schlepped the boxes to The Schooner while The Muse separately checked out our stuff. The car groaned in a most satisfying manner. Once back to The Villa, I called the realtor to let her know that we had a few boxes we didn't want to leave out in the freezing drizzle. We stacked them by the open garage door. The realtor was grateful for our contribution, but perhaps no less grateful than The Muse and I were for the opportunity to contribute. The Muse no longer lives in an ill-heated trailer in a trailer park near Fayetteville, Arkansas, just one of the many blessings she enjoys this season, though I doubt that that trailer park experience will ever leave her, especially this time of year. Contrary to how it felt then, I'm sure, that trailer park experience eventually became part of a more enduring Sacred Ecstatic, one thankfully revisited and replayed every autumn here.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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