I hope you will enjoy this essay written in a spur of nostalgia.
” OUR ” Nature shop
What was it I felt when I first stepped in, what we call today, OUR Nature shop?
Was I simply intrigued, was it fascination or plain gravitation?
I try to recapture the impressions.
The fragrances, the light, those solid wooden shelves that delivered a cozy atmosphere, the people that came in and brought peace with them or their quest for it…
Was it the staff that went about doing their jobs with a sense of purpose and dedication and took as much time
as was needed to help and guide us?
All those components probably contributed to the something-special-in-the-air.
All I know is, I entered, the door closed behind me and the world slowed down to almost a stand-still.
Noise, stress and the ( human ) rat-race, did not belong in this new dimension.
The shop was small, long and narrow.
Containing the unwonted products ever imagined.
The till was at the entrance on the right side. Straight on, I took a trolley that made such a racket on the brown
bumpy tiles, my head just slid into my collar as to avoid the glares. ( that never materialized )
The first thing that caught my eyes, on the left, was a wide range of seaweeds, which to be honest, I thought I’d never dare introduce to my family.
To anyone you would ask, seaweed is a algae found on the beach in a entangled heap with a load of sand on, and to me too.
I had a whole lot to learn!
The names on the labels were very strange to me. Among those seaweeds lay, many hidden treasures. Tiny dark, pink, dried balls of Umeboshi plums, different pickled vegetables, one of them called, Daikon, small packets of pure Agar-Agar for jelly treats.
As I went on, I located a long refrigerated-bakery-display, with a wide range of ready foods exposed to the pleasure of the shopper’s searchfull eyes. Salads, spreads, tofu, pastries, pies… Anything to whet one’s appetite and still have a clear conscience accompanying it.
On the wall above, were small shelves with a whole variety of natural bread loaves and on top, a row of tin boxes with among others, grey
and white Kudzu. I know Kudzu is not very popular in some countries but to me, it’s currently the only way I can start my day.
I find it to be a very soothing drink.
Behind my back is stacked, with what might seem boring packets of rice cakes, but here, they were offered, as salted, sweet, plain, with
seaweeds or sesames. Even cans and jars of organic corn and tomato puree looked appealing in this decor!
A few steps forwards and I had arrived at the end of the shop. In a corner stood a bucket with a brown and black spotted root soaking in
water. It was fresh Lotus root. A delicacy in our home at present (cooked, grated, fried or baked)
Along the wall was a fridge with a stock of Miso, Natto, Tofu, Tempeh…
Today, tofu is the only name that has practically traveled around the world, but back then, I had never heard about it.
Being so focused and spellbound, I had lost track of time and my first encounter with it lasted one hour and a half!
And so, it went on…
Natural cola, rice syrup, nut spreads, natural soaps and shampoos… I stood there, mesmerized and breathless as a runner after his first
Wait… Natural soaps?!
That was a concept totally alien to me. I wondered. Why on earth, would people consider paying double or triple the amount for something
that does not even enter the body?
Well, twenty years later, having been introduced ( the time of a holiday’s T.V show ) to the how-to-do home made natural remedies, cosmetics,
soaps and shampoos, and ” soaking ” myself in the experiment for a year and a half, I understood the importance and benefits of it all.
Browsing through those shelves, was a beautiful journey to the exploration of something new and refreshing. I was open and welcomed the change
in my life. This was something I could do for myself and my family to ensure a better future than the ones of the prognostics or, at least try.
A sense of joy and purpose filled my being as I went to the opposite side of the shop, heading for the cashier and inevitably arrived at my favorite spot. Rows of books neatly stacked, just for the pleasure of the avid eyes and the indulgence of the impatient…
I went from one title to the next, until I decided on a few, that will capture my attention, the time of brief delectation, where I could sink into
the realm of discovery and knowledge.
I opened one at random, to see if the words grasped my attention. The smell of ink and paper floated toward me as I leafed through the crisp, unruffled
pages. I pulled myself away, with the promise of treating myself as soon as the opportunity arises.
I had nearly arrived at ” destination “.
I was eager to go back home with my prized possessions.
A last glance at a whole paraphernalia of essences, natural stones, statues… A reminder of where we were.
I waited in line, hoping, I had not worn out the staff with my interminable list of questions. Was it relief I saw on their faces? It could very well be, but I hoped not. I nevertheless was very grateful for that memorable introduction to the natural world.
Thus, started, a fifteen to twenty years long familiarity with ” THE nature shop ” our kids considered, part of their childhood and part of their family history. Believing it would faithfully stand by their side throughout time.
Hence, their shock ( and ours! ) when the owners decided to close down.
As the days came to an end, clients practically felt the need to present their ” condolences ” seemingly bringing more comfort and consolation to themselves than to the owners!
To the loss of what one called a ” cathedral “.
How would we reorient our lives after this chapter, was a mystery.
We felt as the needles of a compass gone haywire.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Some years have gone by and as I was busy with some mundane task, my mind wandered back to those aisles of warmth, freshness and sympathy, to what brought
flavor to life by its uniqueness and realized, we had never found a replacement for ” our ” shop.
But forever in our hearts, will be engraved the fond memories of this comfy corner from our past.