Winter Shopping

Yesterday was the coldest day yet of this winter season. My daily weather text (I can only read the high/low temps-the rest is in Chinese) had the high listed at -10 C or 7 F. It doesn’t appear that we will start to get warmer until sometime mid-January. And actually the temperature will be dropping next week. I can handle the cold. We get bundled up and go about our life, but the wind! Oh, the wind is painful!

Yesterday, I had several errands on my list. The biggest was grocery shopping. On these days, I usually take one other person with me to help carry the bags. But since I was already out, I was on my own. We don’t have a car here, so we walk or take taxis and buses. Our restaurant is about a 15 minute walk from our house. On cold days (or if we are running late-which seems to happen a lot), we might take a taxi or bus to Gina’s Place. We don’t allow taxi/bus rides to any place closer to us than our restaurant.

I bundled up, left Gina’s Place, and started my trek towards the store. I had already been in and out many times, but I had taken taxis as I criss-crossed our city and didn’t realize how strong the wind was blowing. Now, I was headed right into the wind. You know that spot, right between your eyebrows, at bridge of your nose? The place that hats don’t quite reach and scarves can’t keep warm. It was as if the wind was searching for the one vulnerable spot on my body. And when that place was found, it was targeted relentlessly. I held my mittened hand up over my eyes and trudged on.

The grocery store is at the bottom of a hill. I live about 5 minutes up the hill. As I entered the store, I’m trying to decide just how much I can buy. Not based on money, but on size. My backpack was already loaded from a previous errand, and I figured I could carry two bags in each hand. Plus, I had a shoulder bag I could fill. To my amazement, when I checked out, it was exactly the number of bags that I had planned.

Unfortunately, the bags were much heavier than I anticipated. I am no wonder woman. I walked out of the store, knowing I would need to take a taxi if I planned on getting home. Oh, the shame of it. I thought the taxi driver would fall out of his seat laughing when I told him where I wanted to go. No one takes a taxi such a short distance. The driver smiled (and laughed) at this crazy foreigner who bought way too much stuff and now couldn’t make it home. Paying the 5 RMB (80 cents) was really worth it, even if the locals think I’m extravagant. I got to be in a warm car and all I had to think about was getting everything up 6 flights of stairs.

~ Regina

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