There is nothing like summer in Riverside when everything that is supposed to be green is green and bushy?”and thankfully, the rains have come to keep them that way.

While trying to do my political campaign, I am still trying to grow and tend three tomato plants. Last year, even without a campaign, those plants were just determined not to do what they were meant to do. They grew and grew, and I was lucky enough to get two very measly tomatoes off of them. This year, the plants look healthier, and I just may get a crop.

It is not as though I will ever be able to eat them all, either. But, there is something neighborly about having home grown tomatoes which can be shared with neighbors and friends and those folks who don’t have a garden. At the local food store, one can pick those folks out right away. They are the folks who have to buy their tomatoes, because they know no one who has the kind mom used to grow and have on hand. Frankly, there is something sad about watching them?”or me, for that matter?”have to buy tomatoes. I mean, is there no a friend in the world who might pass some along?

I enjoy the supermarket and watching the checkout line, because what people buy tells me so much about them. I guess it always goes back to my reporter days and seeing a story in everything.

Ah, there must be a new baby in the family because there are hundreds of jars of baby food coming down the moveable rubber roller and heading toward the checkout clerk. And then, of course, there are the families with pets with bags and cans of dog and cat food, animal toys, flea sprays and loads and loads of “treats,” which means they probably have overweight and pampered critters.

One can tell when “the boys” are going to be having a party as the cases of beer appear. They, and other liquors, are on in the carts when holidays are expected, especially the summer holidays when there will be outdoor cookery. One can also see the pounds and pounds of ground meet in anticipation of outdoor grilling and many, many hamburgers yet to be.

I find the people who buy cut flowers to be of special interest. Not everyone does, so they are rather special. Where are those flowers heading? To a home? To a loved one who may be ill? As a thanks to a spouse?”or maybe as a penance? Could they be going to a grave site?

The dieters are loaded down with diet pop, water (I still can’t believe that people actually buy water when we are sitting with Lake Michigan just 20 miles away), all sorts of diet foods without carbs, without sugars, probably without taste. I wonder just how long they will be buying this stuff when the diet falls apart, or do they have a chronic condition which will cause them to have to buy foodstuffs like this forever.

Families have overloaded carts, some of the items bought just to keep a child who is along for the shopping quiet. Overpriced and sugary cereals go rolling down toward the cash register, as does just about anything that can be made into a casserole.

The folks who live alone shop alone, have smaller orders or smaller items either in size or in number. For them, shopping is often a social experience, and they are only too happy to talk to the checkout clerk or anyone else around them. If they are elderly, I wonder if they are lonely, and if they eat their small portions and TV dinners alone. Is there anyone around them to make sure they get their fruits and veggies? If any of them are our moms or dads, should we not be checking in on them more.

I marvel at all the pre-cooked and pre-made foods I, along with others, buy. There is just less and less time to cook. Will I ever use my good china again? After all, one can’t put it into the microwave, and that is where most of my “cooking” occurs.

There is nothing like the supermarket to see whole lives constantly play out right in front of you, the changing nature of neighborhoods, the movement and expansion of families and the rhythm of life. Fascinating!