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Faith in Vermont: Agway Adventures

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Posted on April 25, 2017 | Blog Category:
By Faith Gong



I am sitting in Carol’s Hungry Mind Café to write this column, as I do nearly every Saturday afternoon. Usually I crave this time, when my husband takes our daughters so that I can have a handful of silent and solitary hours – usually my only silent and solitary hours of the week – in order to “work.” (“Work” is in quotations, because being alone to write feels more like play to me.)

But today I had to force myself to come here. Today it was only the threat of a looming deadline that compelled me to drive over to Carol’s. The light rain helped, too. Still, I couldn’t resist stopping in at Agway before landing at Carol’s.

It was my third visit to Agway this week.

Right now, I am not craving silent time to write so much as I am craving time to start seeds, dig and weed, compost and mulch, reseed the lawn, and help my husband finish off the poultry fencing. I want dirt under my fingers more than computer keys.

I’m distracted because it’s spring, of course. Really and truly spring – I think. In Vermont, April is still on the risky side of spring: We are still balancing along the wire of the average last frost, still unsure that Mother Nature won’t throw us one final snowstorm for good measure. But my online forecast shows evening temperatures above freezing for the next ten days, so I’ve taken the plunge and put my spring planting schedule into play.

Spring planting means plenty of visits to Agway, our closest lawn, garden, farm, and pet supply store. And because the only time I’m guaranteed freedom from my children is Saturday afternoon, I usually visit Agway with at least some of my daughters.

One of my most pungent childhood memories is of visiting yard, garden and hardware stores with my own parents. My parents were avid gardeners and do-it-yourselfers (still are, in fact!), and I am an only child, so right about this time of year I became resigned to spending every Saturday morning trying to amuse myself at stores much like Agway. The memories are pungent because, to this day, the smells of mulch and fertilizer can transport me instantly back to the memory of being a small, scab-kneed child pretending to test-drive riding mowers on the astro-turf.

Strangely, my own daughters have not inherited my childhood ambivalence towards yard and garden stores. Far from it: One of my daughters has repeatedly voiced her desire to celebrate her next birthday party at either Agway or Aubuchon Hardware.

Of the two hardware stores and two yard/garden/farm/pet supply stores in town, however, Agway is my daughters’ favorite. Having had two opportunities to observe them on Agway outings over the past week alone, I’ve discerned a predictable pattern to their behavior, which offers an explanation for their affection. Herewith, a daughter’s-eye view of a trip to Agway:

1.     Enter store. Run immediately to the display of Schleich toy animals at the cash register and begin organizing them by breed/type/which one I want for my next birthday.

2.     Mom has a cart! Agway carts – which are basically two large, flat trays, one above the other – are the best! Fight with sister over who gets the top tray and who gets the bottom.

3.     We’re by the dog toy and food section! Jump off of the cart and start demanding treats and toys for our dog. Mom will usually let me pick out one treat, since it’s for the dog and not for me.

4.     Now that there’s something in the cart, it’s time to announce that I have to go to the bathroom. Right now! I can’t wait!!

5.     Mom’s in the back of the store mulling over poultry waterers and feeders and fencing. Wander over to the toy section and/or the rain boot section, which she cleverly tried to ignore when we passed them. When Mom finds me -- after she reminds me not to wander off -- point out all the toys and boots I want for my next birthday.

6.     Now Mom’s mulling over the peat pots and trays. Try on all the cowboy hats and distract her by modeling each one and asking her how I look.

7.     Ooh! Mom’s run into someone she knows! She’s chatting! Now’s my chance to head over to the very breakable fairies, fairy houses, and other cutesie garden decorations. This’ll make Mom really nervous and distract her from her conversation.

8.     Mom’s still chatting. I’m bored with the fairies. I’ll either tug her arm or interrupt her conversation by asking her friend, “Who are you?” Works every time!

9.      At the register, and the cashier lady who we know offers me a sticker. Bonus!

10.    Wander back over to the Schleich animal display. Refuse to leave until I’ve shown Mom every single one of the animals I want for my next birthday.

11.    Excitement: One of my sisters is missing! Watch Mom forget her credit card while she wanders around the store trying not to appear frantic and irresponsible.

12.    Sister located and scolded. Glad it wasn’t me.

13.    Back in the van, but not done yet! We have to drive around to the loading dock for some – could it be? Yes! It’s the Moo Doo! Lean over the back seat and chant “Moo Doo! Moo Doo!” with my sisters while the Agway men load Moo Doo into our trunk. Make Agway men laugh by finally yelling, “MOM! Why are you getting so much COW POOP?!?

So, there you have it: An average visit to Agway with my girls. That should give you an idea of why my girls love this store, full of treasure and adventure as it is. It should also give you an idea of why Agway visits are fun for the whole family – and why I need these quiet, solitary Saturday afternoons.

 

Faith Gong has worked as an elementary school teacher, a freelance photographer, and a nonprofit manager. She lives in Middlebury with her husband, four daughters, and one anxiety-prone labradoodle. In her "free time," she writes for her blog, The Pickle Patch.

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