I went to the grocery store last night. After a snowstorm. In January. I’ve always heard that the worst time to shop is when you’re hungry, but shopping at night in the middle of winter trumps hunger. My body is ready to hibernate. I fill my cart with anything I may want or need in the next three months. And last night, I found a real gem: sugarcane.
No, I don’t actually need sugarcane. It is not healthy. It is not local, sustainable agriculture. But it’s rare around here, and it brought back a memory I’d forgotten. I spend a lot of time searching for items I’ve lost, so getting one back so freely makes me grateful.
In second grade, our teacher arranged for us to be pen pals with a school in Hawaii. We’d write out tedious letters on dotted gray paper talking about our families and life in suburban Ohio. My pen pal told me that her state produced sugar cane. I wrote back that sugar cane sounded interesting, but I’d never tried it. This might have been a travesty to the little second grade class far across the Pacific, because our class’s next batch of letters came with a box of sugar cane for us to try. That was magical.
I used to feel that often – the idea that life may, at any given moment, burst into bloom with some fascinating new experience. One year, a teacher had a handmade reward puzzle in the room. Every time our whole class was being good, we got a puzzle piece, and when the puzzle was complete it spelled out “Free Time.” Magic. My cousins once took us to a park with hill after hill to roll down. That was magic, too. And once, when my parents were redoing the dining room, they let us draw on the old walls with crayon before taking the wallpaper off. Absolute magic.
So, after lunch today, I surprised my daughter with sugar cane. (And, actually, it came with two amazing components – the sugary taste, and permission to spit the remaining chunks out without being scolded.) I hope she stores up these little moments like a squirrel in winter. And someday when she’s older, I want her to remember what this sweetness tastes like. I hope she reminds herself that life is sometimes long and sometimes cold, but even so, it is blooming with magic.