Sunday, May 31, 2009


Because we have already asked much of the space in our little store, the products on the shelves have gotten pretty comfortable having unlikely neighbors. They protested for a while, but then I think they realized they had more in common than they originally thought, given the proper context. Take, for instance, our fishing worms, which are now nestled cozily next to the wine tools and the picnic baskets.

Worms and wine seem like an odd juxtaposition at first. But add to that mix a pole and a spot next to the river, and suddenly they're all part of a relaxing afternoon picnic.

Of course, it took a good while to coax those worms into feeling at home with their new lofty status, as they had previously lived atop the trash can. The change took some getting used to, to be sure.

This week, our kitchen adjusted to change as we made rearrangements to accommodate our newest piece of equipment--a seven-feet-long freezer for dispensing hand-dipped ice cream.

A few weeks ago, Homeland Creamery (a local dairy in Julian, NC--just past Liberty) offered us the use of a giant ice cream freezer so we could bring hand-dipped cones to our community in time for summer. You might think this addition would be fairly simple, but in a gas station-grocery-wine store-cafe, it's a fair challenge to become an ice cream shop to boot. We got to work rearranging our ovens, moving our bakery, squishing our cigarettes even closer to the window, and amputating our counter to fit the eighteen-bin freezer into our already cramped quarters. Our friend Dobbs (the guy who put the five stars on our gas station window) built a cabinet, chopped off our counter, and excavated our safe to prepare room for the new freezer. Sherry, our baker, graciously found new places for muffins and scones when she came in to bake at 3 a.m. and noticed a gaping hole where the bakery counter had been only hours before.

Yesterday, the guys from Homeland hauled in the hulking freezer, and we delighted in getting it cool enough to host the big vats of fresh ice cream that were on their way. But some of the items in the kitchen were a bit ruffled by the move. The bread case lost its home and has been temporarily relegated to a second-class status behind the counter, taking the cookies with it. The to-go containers have been made refugees after the loss of their storage shelves during the counter removal. And the pizza boxes are currently teetering precariously atop the cooling rack, constantly risking calamity. That's to say nothing of the garbanzo beans, the saran wrap, or the measuring cups.

But we're adjusting, and I'm keeping the worms in mind as we figure out how to operate efficiently in our changed space. When we lose an old context for what we do every day--even if we just rearrange things a bit--we sometimes feel out of sorts until we can create comfy grooves in our new spaces. Today, after a lot of finding other spots for old stuff, I found my new context. The brownies have found a home directly above the vanilla ice cream in the freezer, and the bowls now sit nearby.

Add to that mix a spoon and a spot on the patio next to Carter's fountain, and suddenly they're all part of a delicious afternoon snack.

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