No snowshoes: Please do not wear snowshoes in the post office for your own safety. Thank you – Postmaster.

This sign appeared early last week on the door of the Hanover Post Office. Gretchen, the postmaster – no one is a hostess, actress, or postmistress anymore – told me that someone actually had come into the post office wearing snowshoes. Dangerous, and those metal cleats, pretty hard on the flooring. Seems unlikely that snowshoe damage figures importantly in the USPS financial crunch, but it couldn’t help.

If you rate memorable sign lines, “No snowshoes” might be among them, but it doesn’t come close to our all-time favorite: Ears pierced while you wait,” which graced the front window of the old Clukey’s Pharmacy on Main Street in Bethel for years.

Signs of winter

Frequent freezer this season is the washing machine drain. After the last big storm, Ray Barker rescued our trash barrel, but the lid is lost till mud time. Joe Theriault has twice cleared our roof of ice. Last time, the hammering over the kitchen rattled the glass so that I emptied all the cabinets of same and, instead of all the other chores on my list, spent the afternoon washing glass and scrubbing shelves. The real wintertime sign here is time lost to unscheduled, urgent labor.

Where’s the beef?

Another sign of the times and no fun at all: Where Angus beef steaks and lamb chops once filled the meat case in front of the butcher’s workspace at Hannaford’s there was, as of last Wednesday, nothing but ground meat: ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey. Disappointed? Yes, because, I confess, I shop that meat case weekly for wonderful bucks-off coupons for flank steak and other delights.

What’s going on, I asked? Where’s the flank steak? The butcher looked chagrined, as he explained that no one is buying Angus beef and we couldn’t go on throwing it away.

Small wonder Spam is making a huge comeback.

Same day and not 30 feet away, Evelyn Hotham was at her post, pouring fancy organic coffee, something like $7.99 for 12 ounces. Now if you couldn’t swing $6.99 a pound for steak, would you be likely to pay $7.99 for coffee?

Cheered by my Evelyn sighting, I headed for the checkout where Faye Mason was back at the register, but just temporarily. We met Faye years ago on the day she began her job at Hannaford. Where have you been, Faye? In bookkeeping, she replied. Sounds like a promotion, doesn’t it?

Airline reservations

This sign says take us away from the cold for a little. That means a lot of time on the phone, listening to menus; listening to the arrogant nonperson who talks back. The long-awaited real-life airline agent was sympathetic. “Allison” had a tip for me, which I share with you, but not the name of the airline.

“Listen,” she said, “when you get all that menu stuff, just repeat, loudly, ‘Agent, agent, agent, agent.'” It worked. (Good idea to let your spouse or partner in on this secret lest he or she suppose you’ve lost it at last.)

Self-indulgences

When, after many months, I returned to the water aerobics group one bright Monday morning, the group wasn’t there. It had moved to the Bethel Inn’s heated outdoor pool. The Aqua Chix could be heard but not seen, owing to the heavy mist, the warm water’s gift to the frigid air. Trust me, we Aqua Chix don’t mind not being seen, but couldn’t bear not to be heard.

Another self-indulgent delight: Swedish massage. If you add up what you haven’t spent on flank steak for weeks because you can’t get it, perhaps a massage is do-able. In the River Valley, we have two masseuses. One is Irene Haynes, her “A Time for You” at the Gregory Inn in Mexico. The other is Joan Wood; her “Gentle Dove” salon is almost opposite Naples Packing on Route 2. A massage is a heaven-sent help. My favorite birthday present.

Linda Farr Macgregor lives in Rumford. She is a freelance writer. Contact her: [email protected]



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