Mother Mary’s “LOCAL SOUP.”
Serving up tasty local tidbits …
With a touch of salt and an occasional pinch of spice … as needed!
It’s 10 am on a Thursday.
An older gentleman peeks his face around the door jamb … but we can't tell what he looks like because he’s covered head to toe, even though it’s already ninety degrees out … hat, long pants and sleeves, blue gloves, glasses, and a surgical mask. After studying us for a moment, he sneaks his arm around the corner and stretches a white sheet of paper out toward me.
“Here’s my shopping list,” he mumbles through his mask.
He’s supposed to step five feet into the store, stand on a red “X”, and tell me what he wants, but he’s obviously scared to walk through the door. I reach for the paper...
“No!” My son Rob stops me from his position at the check-out counter on the other side of the room. “Don’t touch anything they bring in with them!”
There are seven more customers lined up behind him, most in some form of protective gear, standing six feet apart, holding similar white sheets of paper. New cars are pulling into the parking lot.
A new day has begun...
It Isn’t S’posed To Be This Way.
Not here at Palm City Farms Produce & Market.
Rob created this small grocery store to promote as many local foods as we can find and provide a community gathering place. We get to know our customers. They take their time and let their kids wander around. Grandparents bring their grand-babies in for frozen bananas after they pick up them from school. It’s supposed to be a fun outing.
But now they’re afraid of us … and we’re afraid of them.
Like small businesses everywhere in this Time of the Virus, we’re trying to adapt.
But the rules keep changing.
What seems like a lifetime ago … but was actually only a couple of weeks … we rearranged the store to provide adequate “Social Distancing” for ourselves and our customers.
We felt pretty good about our solution … and now the “experts” are recommending a lot of the changes we instituted on Day-One. Plus, even though the new system was harder and took more man-power, it was working.
But that was back in the Good-Old-Days … back before we knew an employee at the local Publix had caught the virus … back before the first Martin County death made the danger personal.
And … back before we lost half our employees to the side effects of the Pandemic … frustration, exhaustion, and fear.
So, It's the Existential Question Once Again.
Rob the Idealist hoped he had negotiated a lasting peace with Rob the Pragmatist when he redesigned store operations. Things looked good for a while, but due to circumstances beyond our control the truce didn't hold.
Now he has to choose, again: Close the store or reinvent ourselves and start over … again.
On one hand, people need a safe place to get food and the store needs to sell food to survive. Plus this is our Mission! Our very purpose for existence is to provide an “Essential Service” to our community.
On the other hand, we’re putting in eight hours a day seven days a week, stocking, restocking, cleaning the store … and checking out one more person whose breath could kill us every three minutes.
There’s no time to sit down and eat, much less to develop strategic plans. Even if we can stay virus-free and survive at this pace, we are exhausting ourselves and our remaining employees ... and exposing everybody we care about to danger.
Our employees deserve better and we can’t afford to lose the ones we've been able to hold on to.
Here We are ... Back at The Drawing Board.
As of today, Easter Sunday, we’ve once again shut the doors of our well-oiled Labor of Love to take time out to think. Maybe it’s ironic or symbolic. Could be it’s something bigger … but I cannot conceive of a better day than this day of renewal and hope to dedicate ourselves to starting over.
We’re not sure how long the Market will be closed … likely a whole week. Right now we think we’ll be offering a pre-order or box-style system when we reopen. We’re hoping to have deliveries, too, but have not found anyone to do them, yet.
And it’s not just us.
The truth is, like most of the small businesses in America today, we just don't know what's coming next. All we can do is try our best to come up with something that works for as many of us as possible.
Nobody knows how this going to end. Economically speaking, we’re among the lucky ones. We’ve still got a business to try to run. Millions of others have been shut down completely or lost their jobs and can’t get through to the unemployment office for help. The government says it is sending money to the rescue, but try getting your hands on any of it.
And health-wise? That older gentleman in the mask on Thursday had every reason to be afraid and he’s going to have to stay on his toes once the crisis is over.
Don’t get too excited by all the talk of flattening the curve. People are still getting sick and dying and Covid-19 will still be lurking in the shadows ready to pounce when the young, healthy, and recovered are allowed to go back to the shambles of their lives.
Until we build up herd immunity and widely distribute an effective vaccine, the vulnerable and old fogies like me will have the same target on our backs we have today. We may never be able to stop social distancing and may never return to any version of “Normal Life” again.
So, What’s a Mother to Do?
What this Mother always does is steal the best idea I can from someone a lot smarter than me, in this instance, one of my favorite authors and thinkers ... local girl Zora Neale Hurston.
She gave her mother credit for her success like this:
“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”
So, get up off the couch and jump at the dad-gummed Sun!
We’ll all go crazy if we just sit around waiting for someone to save us. On some level in this unprecedented crisis, each one of us will have to save himself.
That means staying active and alert and being ready to put aside our best-laid-plans and find another way when things fall apart.
Don’t give up on your dreams! Create new ones if you have to!
And, as my alter ego, Little Mary Sunshine, would say, we may have a hard time recognizing it when we see it, but there really is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel … possibly a silver lining even … if you keep a sharp eye out for it.
(Pick a cliché of your choice and stick with it. Clichés are clichés for a reason … they speak a human truth.)
It’s Easter, Ya’ll!
Rise and shine and sing along if you know the tune!
(Memory from CATS)
Daylight … I must wait for the sunrise I must think of a new life And I mustn't give in When the dawn comes Tonight will be a memory too... And a new day will begin.
And when you get to the Sun ... tell 'em Mary sent you!
Palm City Farms Produce & Market, is only minutes from Martin Downs, Pt. St. Lucie, Indiantown, and Okeechobee City at the corner of SW Citrus Blvd & SR-714.
Oh, and we carry local craft beer!
3706 SW Citrus Blvd,
Palm City, FL, 34990.
From Mother with love..