The veggies are delivered a few towns away, quite near my workplace. Naturally this is not a big deal when I am working. I simply remember to bring a large backpack, transfer the vegetables into it after school, and bike merrily home (I do deal with moderately sore shoulders for a day or so.) In the summer, though, with two small boys to transport there and back, it might as well be the moon.
This is because of the odd schedule of the one bus that travels approximately from my home to the vegetable pickup (by approximately I mean that there are about 4 miles of additional walking, all told). The last bus of the morning leaves at 8:34 am. The first bus of the afternoon arrives 10 minutes past the pickup time, so in order to ensure that we do indeed get our veggies, we must plan for a full day in town. This entails packing lunches and diaper bags and toys and sunscreen and changes of clothes the night before and rousting everybody out of bed before dawn.
When we arrive in town, we have about 6 hours to kill before the veggie pickup. The whole reason I undergo this bus schedule madness is that by the end of the day I have a full bag of kid accessories, a cumbersome stroller, a majorly heavy and fragile bag of perishable veggies, and two tired kids to transport. Trying to cram all of this into a rush hour "normal" bus is at best glare-inducing and at worst borderline suicidal. Not to mention that if we do not take this one oddball bus, we have to transfer twice. Getting all of that junk in and out of the bus---finding a place to stow things and restrain babies without stepping on people or blocking the entrance and exit of the bus--and then those horrible waits for multiple buses with the children constantly almost running into the street and the stroller falling onto the already squishy fruits....you get the picture. The six hours are a small price to pay.
So we play at the park, eat the lunches I packed, wander through libraries, get sunburnt and irritable, tell endless ankylosaurus vs. allosaurus stories, whine, visit friends. Finally the hour of pickup comes and we rush at our veggies like long lost friends---they are our ticket home!
Then comes the lugging march back to the bus stop with wilted children carrying wilted greens. The deconstruction of the stroller. The frenzied dash back and forth after children determined to get themselves killed either by oncoming traffic or headlong topples from cement embankments, one. And then, EVERY SINGLE TIME, the failure of the bus to arrive. Because it is an oddball bus, it seems to think it gets special dispensation. It doesn't have to follow the rules. After all, nobody rides it except for that one banshee-voiced woman and her lobster-hybrid offspring. So we wait. And wait. And nearly die grisly deaths several times (the boys from previously mentioned causes, I from apoplexy or nervous exhaustion).
Sometimes the bus arrives around 5:30 (a mere 2 1/2 hours past its scheduled arrival). Sometimes it never arrives at all, and my carefully laid plans to avoid bus transfers and crowded buses are squashed as flat as the organic tomatoes in my shoulder bag.
But, somehow, we always make it home. Somehow, those last weary steps to the front door always feel triumphant, as though we have REALLY accomplished something today. Tonight was no different. To motivate me through the cooking of dinner, I put on a bluegrass CD. I giggled as Anainn did the frantic back-and-forth stroll that passes for dancing in his adorable mind, and melted when Xir took my hand and Anainn's and led us in a circular dance.
"That was my favorite part of the day," I said when the song ended. Xir was silent as I went to dish up the zucchini-and-onion stirfry. But when I tucked him in, he said "I don't know what my favorite part of the day was. Everything was so great. We got to stay out ALL DAY and you played with us the whole time!"
Is it Frost who wrote the line "...and saved some part of a day I had rued" ? That line has been running through my head this evening as I watch my boys sleep and think about how our perspectives vary. How silly of me to be stressing out, trying to adhere to schedules and plans and worthwhile occupations. The boys were just having fun. For someone who blathers on about the importance of process all the time, I sure do fail to recognize it when I see it.
So is it wasteful to spend 10 hours picking up one crate of vegetables? Couldn't that time have been better utilized, oh, I don't know, cleaning up oil spills or translating from the Greek or reseeding the wilderness?
All I know is, the boys are fast asleep, with smiles on their sunburnt faces and organic zucchini in their round little bellies.