Tuesday was the first of three days of holiday in Big Grove. It began with commerce.
Meeting mercantile needs inevitably leads me to the county seat, and to people in the community I’ve known for years.
To get a long past due oil change I went to the Jiffy Lube on Highway One in Iowa City. “Jiffy” had been removed from the process, as each oil change takes 20 minutes, and they have crew enough to do only one car at a time. I left unwilling to wait an hour and headed to the Mobil 1 Lube Express on Riverside Drive, which I noticed for the first time on my drive in. In and out in 10 minutes. I asked the cashier, “is this place new?” “We’ve been here ten years,” he said.
Next stop the HyVee grocery store on North Dodge for two items, both of which they carry, but our main store does not: a certain size plastic storage bag, and whole mustard seed. I ended up paying more to get some Morton & Bassett brown mustard seed which proclaims it is “all natural, salt free, gluten free, non-GMO, preservative free, no MSG and non-irradiated.” I didn’t know irradiation was a thing with spices. I also picked up four links of vegetarian sausage for gumbo. There’s a bag of okra in the freezer that needs using. The new store is nice, but pricey.
Turning east on Dingleberry Road off Highway One, I headed to Wilson’s Apple Orchard where I’ll spend the next six weekends as the mapper in a u-pick operation. I spent two hours walking through the 110 acres, re-familiarizing myself with the layout, the new groves, and which apples are ripe where. Gala are at peak now, and this Labor Day weekend is the Honeycrisp weekend. I tasted some Honeycrisp and they are almost there… just a couple of days away. The rough creek crossing was flooding over the rocks, so I rolled up my pants and felt the cool water running across my sandal-clad feet. When I got back to the barn, I was covered with sweat. I bought a gallon of fresh apple cider and a small bag of apples, and talked for a while to the manager while dripping sweat from my arms to the floor.
North on Highway One, Rebal’s Sweet Corn had their sign up so I stopped and bought a bag of ears. The farmer said there were two more patches to harvest. One for the Labor Day weekend, and the second was uncertain with it being so late in summer for sweet corn. It’s only the second time we’ve bought sweet corn this season.
The final stop was at the hardware store in Solon where I bought four boxes of canning jar lids and a box of rings. It’s more expensive there, but I enjoy my visits to get hardware close to home. The folks that run the store are making a business out of it, and there is something to learn about small town life each time I stop.
Once home, I picked tomatoes for dinner, which was sweet corn, thick-sliced tomatoes and apple cider. The whole day set me back $117.53 plus fuel.
A bargain vacation while sustaining a life in a turbulent world.