I was browsing the greeting cards at a local gift store recently when the announcement was made: “Oh….it’s Saturday!”
It came from a woman standing in between the complimentary coffee carafe and the cash register. Her tone was not one of dismay or panic, but rather matter-of-fact with just a hint of urgency. She chuckled, pleased at her own sudden recall, made her purchases and left to go about her business.
“Yup, it’s Saturday, all right,” I thought. And then it hit me. There I was, reading through the same cute moose and hummingbird cards I’d seen repeatedly, wondering which critter went best with which upcoming birthday, and I hadn’t even been distracted by the woman’s announcement. I’d simply nodded in silence. I already knew it was Saturday. And, without even looking up, I felt I knew this lady just as if we’d sat down and had coffee face to face. She must be a local, I realized, and I must be almost one, too.
With house moving check lists, real estate deadlines, and 9-to-5 work weeks behind me, most days I’d be hard pressed to tell you what day of the month it is. I do have a calendar pinned to the refrigerator like everyone else. But unless it tells me it’s time to send off a cute card, pay a bill, or remind Tom to stop fishing and start hunting, I don’t use number dates to monitor my activities much anymore. I’ve switched over to a day of the week system instead. It doesn’t so much matter which calendar week I’m in, as long as I know “What day is today?” (Except when you’re talking about the third Thursday of the month. Everyone knows that’s pot luck dinner night at the Rangeley sportsmen’s club.)
Out in Rangeley Plantation (see my description in Finding Community), Saturday is dump day. It’s also fresh seafood truck day, post office and bank in the morning day, library before 2 o’clock and building supply store before 4 day, and make it to the IGA before last week’s sale items run out day. But, first and foremost, it is dump-is-open-all-day day. As you can imagine, Waste Management curbside pickup stops way south of here, leaving us responsible for our own garbage disposal. I can’t run out to the curb at the last minute in my slippers hauling green bags in one hand and pulling a recycling bin in the other. Tom and I need to haul our own by-products to the “transfer station,” so-called because it’s not really a dump, but a place where we dump all our refuse and recyclables so they can get transferred somewhere else to be dealt with. And, if for any reason, we have a total brain freeze on the dump hours of operation (meaning when the gate is left open), we can’t transfer our garbage out of our garage and must deal with those consequences for another week.
“Jeez, is it Saturday yet?” I wonder long about Thursday during unseasonably mild weather when what’s left of what I bought off the fresh seafood truck the previous week is in desperate need of transfer. (While most welcome in all other respects, Indian Summer is a bummer when it warms the garage after the dump reverts back to its winter schedule. In the “winter,” meaning after Labor Day, I lose the respite of having the dump open for a couple hours on a couple week nights.)
So if our noses haven’t reminded us, our bio-rhythms hopefully have and, come Saturday morning, we load up and head off for the dump. But, unless we are in dire need of emergency garbage transfer, we are not headed just to the dump. Out in Rangeley Plantation, 13 miles from the post office and 20 miles from the hustle and bustle of the Town of Rangeley, we strive to never make the 12 miles to the dump our only stop. We do what we call “the loop.” The loop will take us around to all the previously mentioned places of business. It consolidates our errands and conserves on gas, while preserving our sanity and rural way of life. And, more importantly, it reminds us why we came and why we don’t care so much about forgoing bigger city conveniences. At the dump, we are greeted as “hun” by the longtime attendant who has told me she will sort my recycling for me. A true honor, indeed, in these parts where co-mingling and other offenses have banished others to a lonely life of digging through their own smelly cans and sour bottles. At the post office, we aren’t a box number, but Joy and Tom who have a book from Amazon that was too big to put in the box so is handed over with best wishes for our well-being and weekend plans. On any given Saturday, one of us might stop in at the only hair salon that’s on a pond next to an ice cream store, where we have a good hair day as long as we don’t giggle too hard at the proprietor’s jokes and make him slip with the scissors. In our travels, we might also run into the guy who installed our TV dish and wonders if our reception is OK. He’s the Rangeley installation guy, not the DirecTV contractor sent from Waterville who refused to go up on the roof and told us we were out of luck. Our local guy runs into us in the building supply store or in the bank and wants to make sure we’re happy because, if we’re not, he’d “make the trip out” again. On any given Saturday, our “loop” is bigger now, but connected by people who would go the extra mile with us.
Maybe the woman in the gift store realized it was Saturday since that’s the day they switch over to Back Woods Blend in the free coffee carafe. If she was a renter, chances are she wouldn’t have even been there to make the announcement. Come Saturday, she would’ve hung her head and headed south while a local guy picked up her garbage at her rental cabin and transferred it for her. Nope, my guess was that she was a local and headed out of the store to make it to the dump before the gate closed, and after she got fresh seafood and did the rest of her loop.
“You know, when you retire, every day is Saturday,” our neighbor reminded Tom and me when we were making dinner plans awhile back. “Jeez,” I thought, smiling at the possibilities. “You mean the dump is open every day?”