Fall was in the air as the temperatures dropped for the first time yesterday. Bonnie, Rebecca and I headed to the country, to Biggar Antiques in Lake Alfred, Florida. A relaxing afternoon at their Halloween festival was just what we needed.
But first, we were hungry. It was after 2 p.m. and none of us had eaten lunch. A quick bite, and we’d hit the road. Quick, but charming, Bonnie and I requested, with good menu choices, no fast foods, but food fast, because the antique store would close by 5 p.m. and the shop was an hour away. Mimi’s fit the bill. We grabbed a table outside in the breeze and shade and ordered drinks from a waifish waitress with a whispering French accent. When we ordered, Rebecca asked if the French fries were good.
“I don’t know,” the waitress whispered, “I don’t eat here.”
We made our choices and waited, and talked. Rebecca’s friends called and asked us to come over to Elephant Bar up the street and eat with them. They would have drinks waiting. It was tempting. We could see Elephant Bar from the patio where we sat, but our food would be there any minute.
At some point we realized Rebecca was now in the sun and 45 minutes had passed. We hailed the young man who showed us to our table and asked for our waitress. Shortly she, silently appeared with her order pad.
“Hello, what I can get for you?”
“How about the food we ordered 45 minutes ago?” Bonnie said.
The waif in black whispered something unintelligible and smiled.
“No, forget it. We are leaving. We have to be somewhere,” Rebecca said as we gathered our things and got up. And she was suddenly gone. We go in to tell them we are leaving and someone came out of the kitchen with food and asked if we wanted it to go. NO! Then she explained she was the regional manager on site for “coaching.”
“No charge, just let us bag the food for you.” Which she began to do.
Now we have only food, so stop at Albertsons’s for bottled drinks, hit I-4 and get on our way. The food is cold, and Rebecca is trying to eat and drive.
“My crotch is vibrating,” Rebecca says, and grabs her phone. Now she is eating, texting and driving. But we make it to Lake Alfred about 45 minutes before closing, having no time to enjoy the country scene after we leave I-4.
The shop is lovely as ever in the old downtown building. The gifts and antiques are tasteful and beautifully displayed. Best of all, the owner, Mrs. Biggar and her daughter-in-law Karen are there with Karen’s infant son, the one they waited ten years for. He was adorable. We learned chaos preceded us. Mrs. Biggar had cut her arm and was bleeding badly. Karen shed her Halloween costume to take her to the hospital. They were back when we arrived and doing fine, but feeling a bit harried.
Bonnie found a LOT of stuff and I found the most beautifully crafted silver bracelet I could not leave there. Did I say their prices are unbelievably reasonable for such quality and good design whatever the product?
We decide to look for a coffee shop as we leave because that’s just what we need to relax us. We would have to hit I-4 to find one. Rebecca is talking to a friend on the phone when Bonnie points to the sky.
A “J,” she says, gazing into the sky. “E” . . . “S” . . . “U”. . . Bonnie recites as the miles tick on. Bonnie doesn’t take her eyes off the sky. Then she begins singing “Jesus Loves Me.” We join in. Rebecca’s friend on the phone asks if we have been drinking. If only.
Grandma, do you still have the tin full of buttons I used to play with when I was little?” Rebecca had her grandmother in South Dakota on the phone. Bonnie continued to watch the fading Jesus. The antique buttons in the store had brought back memories. The buttons Rebecca remembered would be waiting for her on Grandma’s demise, Grandma promised. They had a charming conversation over the next few miles.
“We’ve got to find a gas station,” Rebecca says.
“Got to be Shell or Mobile,” Bonnie said.
“Is the light about to come on?” I asked. I had missed earlier conversation due to road noise and sitting in the back.
“It’s been on since before Bonnie started seeing Jesus in the sky,” Rebecca said, “She wouldn’t pay attention to me. Now it’s almost to the end of the red.”
Jesus is fading.
I-4 is packed, no proper service station appears. I volunteer to buy gas at ANY station, but Rebecca decides we can make it to Altamonte exit. Did I mention Bonnie and I now have very queasy stomachs? We are car sick or have food poisoning from the restaurant, so a Coke and motion sickness pill (just in case) become as important as gas.
We arrived at the station on fumes, grab Cokes and head to drug store for motion sickness pills for Bonnie. A more normal feeling began to creep in our tummies after a few swigs of Coke and we made it home.
I wouldn’t take the world for my relaxing day in the country. I like the “things” in my life to have purpose or memories. Every time I look at my beautiful silver bracelet our incredible day will all come back to me and I mean “incredible” in the most literal way.