For the longest time in our household, a commonly heard phrase was, “I feel bad for Mulder’s”. It would come out of the mouth of our Girl, sometimes out of the blue for no reason, and it was frequent enough that even the Boy, from the age of about two, would go around and repeat it without knowing exactly what it meant. To the other three members of the family, it was a message of compassion. Mulder’s, you see, is a small business in our town which never seems to have any customers inside whenever we pass by. Just like we saw on our way to and from Ottawa this weekend . . .
On this road trip, we were in season to see a certain type of roadside stand that we don’t often find around our neck of the woods: blueberries for sale. About a dozen times, we’d see a little shack, advertised by a handlettered sign. Sometimes there would be a van or trailer parked next to it, but most often not. Inside the stand, we’d see a lone person sitting, ready to sell wild blueberries and baked goods. On the trip to, and back, we’d catch a glimpse of this sad sight of the worker, with nary a customer, and both the Girl and I would remark on what a depressing thing it was to see. Well, about halfway through our trip back home, it suddenly dawned on the Girl that this was another Mulder’s instance.
So she piped up and said, “Papa, I wish we could buy some blueberries from them.” And I promised her that at the next stand, we would try to stop in, if we saw it soon enough and it didn’t involve an inconvenient or dangerously hasty exit from the road. And we did. Bought two litres of blueberries and a pie, and met a nice woman who had her 1-year-old Australian sheepdog and an old trailer to keep her company. The high price of handpicked wild blueberries be damned; I think the Beloved Husband and I instinctively understood that we were going to buy them no matter what.
What’s so remarkable about this purchase? The Girl doesn’t even like blueberries. They’re on her “never touch ’em” list. But that wasn’t the point. It was all about helping out the Mulders of the world. And that’s something that I hope she will keep in her heart for life.