The Cupboard Was Bare

September 18, 2008

So I finally got to clean out the refrigerator this afternoon.  The freezer is basically empty except for the frozen water jugs I put in there in case the power goes out again.  In the refrigerator, besides the milk, butter, and eggs that I bought in my mad dash to the store the other morning, all we have are staples and condiments that didn’t spoil.  There’s only so much you can do with a box of cornstarch and a bottle of balsamic vinegar.

What’s left in the pantry are pretty much rice, peanut butter, pasta, a few stray canned vegetables, some SPAM, oils, and assorted oddments like chocolate chips and shredded coconut.

I feel like Old Mother Hubbard.

My task tonight is to make a shopping list so that I can head out to the supermarket first thing in the morning.  I have to get there early, before the lines get too long, before the things we need sell out.

Mom talked about the bread lines they used to have back in the Great Depression, and how her mother used to feed the hobos who came to their door in Gulfport.  Grandma Lucia was fortunate for someone running a household in those difficult years, in that she had a government widow’s pension.  For so many, a reliable income was not something to take for granted, nor the means to buy food.

I remember seeing photos of the Soviet stores, bare shelves and all, back during the Cold War.  For a day or so immediately after Rita, I found the same thing in Galveston.  Yet somehow I never quite envisioned planning life around how and when to get food supplies.

This will pass, I know, soon.  Another day, another normal, is just around the corner.

On this day, those who have no power or no means line up at PODs for government supplies.  PODs run out of provisions, and those waiting will stay or leave, wondering when the next trucks will come.  We line up for gas, we line up at broken stoplights, we line up to stand in line.  And those who can rush to stores seeking whatever they can find, before the next customer takes it, careful not to take more than a fair share, unless they’re taking extra for a neighbor or friend or even a stranger in need.

But we are not strangers anymore, if we ever were.  We are all neighbors now, and we have to rely on each other more than ever.

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2 Responses to “The Cupboard Was Bare”

  1. Ray Says:

    Your cupboard inventory sounds like it came from that NPR cooking program “The Splendid Table” with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, where folks call in the contents of their refrigerator and she has to figure out how to make a dinner from them.

  2. Ray Says:

    Bob wrote: “I remember seeing photos of the Soviet stores, bare shelves and all, back during the Cold War.”

    Yes. I visited East Berlin for the first time in 1980, and noticed a store that had its display window literally filled with row upon row of cans of the same product; yet inside the shelves were bare.


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