Monday, September 19, 2011

Groceries and the Empty Nest

Three weeks ago, Rob and I took my youngest off to university. We got him all moved into residence, did a major grocery shop at the supermarket nearest to the campus so that he would be well-provisioned for at least a week or two, went out for a special family dinner, and then waved good-bye. Until Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving seemed to this new empty-nester like a very long six weeks into the future.

I was prepared to be sad. I thought that I might cry a little on the seven-hour drive back home. I knew that I would feel a deep need to phone him (or at least text him) daily. I kind of expected the feelings of glumness and irritability. I wasn't surprised, once we arrived back home without him, that the house seemed way too big and unnervingly quiet.

But I was surprised about the groceries. Apparently Rob and I don't eat anything to speak of. When we left to take my son to university, the fridge and cupboards were quite bare. I knew that I would have to shop the minute I returned home.

Well I didn't. And I still haven't. Yes, we've run out to pick up a couple of small items a couple of times: bread, milk, eggs, beer, and cat food. But that's about it.

I used to to be that woman you'd see in the grocery store late at night, racing up and down the aisles just before it closed with a hugely overloaded cart. I'd have all the usual stuff: two big jugs of milk, several packages of meat, four or five types of fresh vegetables, two or three types of fruit, the giant economy slab of cheddar cheese, and bulk sized boxes of breakfast cereal. And, I admit with a blush, there were several kinds of junk food and prepared foods in the cart too: frozen pizza, cola, chips, cookies. A week or ten days later, there I would be, back in the grocery store doing it all over again.

As it turns out, Rob and I weren't eating that much of the cartloads of groceries. Since the end of August, we have been getting along just fine on the frozen salmon in the freezer that we caught during the summer, the various veggies offered up by my little weed patch of a garden, and the apples that are now ripening on the trees. Regular sized boxes of crackers or cereal now last and last. Whatever I buy stays in the cupboard or fridge, and is still there when I go to cook dinner. I look into the pantry and can't imagine how I will ever manage to use up all those cans and boxes of stuff that I see there. I may never need to shop again!

Oh wait. Thanksgiving is coming soon.

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