The Sun Still Rises

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

A familiar voice spoke into my ear from the pew behind us, as the congregation was settling down to worship.

“Can you believe it’s been 20 years?” Paul Yellina said, and I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Twenty years since Kroger was putting the finishing touches on its Braelinn food market, Dave and I were walking our big Irish setter and peeping through windows. A door was flung open and Paul Yellina introduced himself, and invited us in to have a look. We tethered Abbie (tsk!) to a pole out front and enjoyed the tour with the new store’s manager.

I won’t say we’ve never shopped elsewhere – of course, we have – but by and large, our grocery and prescription needs are met within walking (or golf carting) distance of our house.

For all that, I was hesitant to ask a favor of Paul. Kroger had not long ago done a major refurbishment on the huge store and it does look good. One new decoration was the steel sun, its beams “waving” atop the rows of the store’s organic and vegetarian food section.

It’s a little hard to explain how the sun came out at our house, but I’ll try. Years ago we built a wooden lattice about 12 x 6 feet to provide a bit of privacy.

Across the top of the lattice “wall” were three large openings, just the right size for a plant like a mature Boston fern. Last week I bought two ferns and hung one in each of the two outer windows.

What to put in the center window? When we first built this lattice wall, we had one of those neat stained glass windows that fit within the central window.

I don’t really expect you to believe me, but this is absolutely true. I began noticing that the glass was getting pulled out and broken on the deck.

By a squirrel.

He seemed most interested in the lead used to hold the glass pieces together, and I told him he’d damage his brain. “How could you tell?” said Dave, the wise guy.

There was no way to salvage either glass or lead, and the window looked mighty empty.

Then I spotted the suns in the health food department at Kroger. The dimensions looked as though they were designed exactly for my project.

It was several weeks before I got up the nerve to ask for one. It would not be the first time I latched onto something just by asking.

Some years ago, the post office had hung up some stunning cardboard angel “stamps,” and I asked what would happen to them after the Christmas season. They’d throw them away, came the answer, except one that an employee had dibs on. “Could I have one of them?” I asked. “Sure,” said the lady behind the desk. “Come back after Christmas.”

You bet I did, and that pretty angel has whirled over my kitchen counter every holiday season since.

Once I asked a server in a local restaurant for one of those little stainless steel cream pitchers, with a lid. Dave was mortified. I said, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”

“She could lose her job.”

Oh. That scared me, but not for long. What she knew, but we didn’t, was that the chain had just changed to individual containers and the stainless creamers were already obsolete.

It was with some trepidation I approached Paul last week and asked him for the sun when he was through with them.

His laugh filled the store. “I just got those,” he said. “Haven’t had them but a few months and you want me to take them down? They’re part of my new makeover,” and he laughed some more.

I felt chastised, like I really had gone too far this time. Finished shopping and putting groceries again, then returned to the closet-from-Hell. I’d spent four days sorting, laundering, separating clothes, all with plans to take a load to the thrift shop on Ga. Highway 74 South.

The doorbell rings. It was Paul, and he was carrying two sheet-metal beaming suns, identical to those in the Braelinn store. He had stopped by the “Baby Kroger” that just closed, and spotted these in a pile of discards.

He brought them to me, and I’m standing there babbling until he finally interrupted me to ask where he could set them down; they were heavy. Just the guy I want to parade through the ruins of my bedroom to where he could see where we’ll place Ol’ Sol.

Some days end on a definite up-tick.

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