Better Than New


Today, it felt like spring was officially here!  It was time to clean the garage of cotton cobwebs, sweep spiders from hidden corners and hunt for colored clay pots to fill while the weather is warmer still.

After tidying up, I drove to visit my favorite hardware store.   Where everything imagined is sold!   From skinny rubber bands all wrapped in bouncing balls, to single silver nails dropped to the bottom of a brown paper bag…plunk.  The store is nothing like you’d think. It’s not a chain store like, ‘Lowes’ or ‘Home Depot.’  No, a trip to this hardware store is akin to stepping back far, far in time to a very distant land.  A different time and place.

The building is made of all wood and tin, a “Freight and Grain Elevator” that was built way back in 1877, by a small family.  It was their business then and hasn’t much changed since then.  Pulling into the gravelled parking lot, my car wheels made a crunching sound as they slid by the side of a red pick-up truck.  Near-by, a sign spelled, “C.H.I.C.K.S- for- S.A.L.E” in big, black letters.  Hand-printed by someone very young.  I could tell.

Wide, wooden planks of grey greeted me the moment I stepped outside my door.  Perhaps long ago, they were painted emerald-green to match the grasses all around?  If so, years of hot St. Louis summers had completely bleached the color from every board.  So old and worn, they were.  If I kneeled down, could I blow wooden dust through uneven cracks to the bottom?   A ramp led to a long covered ‘front porch’ of sorts.  Under its ceiling, I found bags of musty mulch in all sizes.  Mmmm…..the earthy scent seeped from within allowing me to breathe it in deeply.  A favorite scent of mine.

Much like I thought it would, the old screen door squeaked and creaked when it cracked open.  Behind the short counter (people were smaller, years ago), I asked the smiling young man if he would help me load my car.  “Of course,” he said, before tossing chocolate-brown mulch into my trunk.  To the side, he added burlap bags sewn in red.  Chock full of seeds they were.  For flying feathered friends waiting in trees of pine near bricks of my home.

Before leaving, I couldn’t help but notice a brand new furniture store being remodeled right next door.  Modern and ‘state-of-the-art!’  What a contrast to the nostalgic hardware store of 137 years old.   Nearly the same as the day the original doors opened.  Sighing, it gave me pleasure to know of something old that was better than anything new!  One day in the future, perhaps my grandchildren will tag along with me for a visit.

There, we can buy fresh earth to scatter round trees that grow towards heaven.  Or fill pockets with seeds to fill feeders for wings of wonder.

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