The purpose was to film some video for the marble festival, but I rarely leave Sylacauga without stopping at Pete’s Feed and Seed on Norton, and this trip was no exception. I love their variety of healthy plants–veggies and flowers–and I love just wandering in their old-shoe comfortable store.
After filling a cardboard tray with seedlings of broccoli, kale, and various lettuces from the graying wooden display shelves along the side of the building, I stepped inside, not sure which of several caged birds were greeting me with wolf whistles and clear, high-pitched hellos. The menagerie here–both live and stuffed–is unique. So is the scent of the place, a pleasant mystery of cedar chips, moist pots, containers of plant remedies, and I can’t guess what else, but it is pleasant.
The lady at the register noticed my marble heart pendant. She has one, too, and we had a short conversation about sculptor Craigger Browne and her friend who helped him figure out how to attach a silver ring to each carved heart so it could be worn on a silver chain.
A couple years ago, running late with a Saturday meeting at the Comer library, I didn’t make it to Pete’s before closing. It was spring, and I had my heart set on heading home with seedlings for my garden. There they were–exactly what I wanted, still on display outside the locked doors. I didn’t see any way to leave a note. Furtively, I scanned the sidewalks, filled my cardboard tray quickly, and shoved it into the back of my SUV. I felt like a thief racing from the crime scene, and all weekend, as I set out the healthy plants in my compost-enriched soil, I felt the guilt creature crouching on my shoulder.
Early Monday morning, I called Pete’s and started to explain. “Oh, people do that all the time. No worries,” she said. “Just tell me what you picked up, I’ll total it here on the register, and you can mail me a check.”
The guilt creature slithered off my shoulder, and I felt so much better. Don’t you love Alabama small towns and their shopkeepers?