It was the perfect night to ride in a convertible. My sister and I slid into our 2005 PT Cruiser Turbo, top down, destination Van Buren. There we would find, on that warm, muggy evening, divine ice cream and pizza burgers that border on perfection at the local dairy bar.
We pulled into Family Dollar, a slight detour from the food, as I needed to purchase greeting cards. Dollar stores are making appearances in nearly every small community these days, and there is something comforting about their simple fare.
Just to our left in the Family Dollar parking lot, a large, tan SUV pulled in. A young woman exited the vehicle, hurriedly walking into the store after giving us a friendly glance. I knew even before turning my head that curious eyes were peering out from the backseat of the SUV, evaluating the dark blue Cruiser and its wind-blown passengers.
I stepped out of the car, maneuvering the straps of the required face covering over my ears, and turned to greet my appraisers. A little girl and an even smaller boy sat transfixed just behind the open vehicle window, their eyes wide with curiosity and amazement.
“I love your hair,” the little girl declared.
“Really?” I asked, brushing some errant strands off my forehead. “It’s convertible hair.”
The girl pointed toward the car. “And that’s a convertible, right?”
I nodded my head.
“Does it have a top?” she asked.
“It does indeed,” I confirmed. “Do you want me to show you how it works?”
The twosome nodded their heads with great enthusiasm.
I got back into the car and turned the key to Accessory. I then reached over and pushed the button that controlled the soft top, watching their amazed faces as it stretched itself into the air, pausing for a millisecond before slowly lowering itself over the vehicle and coming to rest in place on the rim of the windshield.
“Wow!” the young duo chimed in unison. “Wow!”
“Do you want me to show you how it opens?”
Another double nod of their heads and my finger went back for the button, the top lifting off the car and folding like an accordion into its nesting place between the trunk and back seat. I probably would have sat there all night, raising and lowering that top, just to watch those innocent faces light up, if their chauffeur had not returned so quickly, asking me if they had been a nuisance.
“Not in the least,” I assured her. “I love showing off!”
She flashed a knowing smile and threw the SUV into reverse, my newly acquired friends waving at me as they backed away.
“Thank you, lady!” they exclaimed as I watched them head toward the center of town and blew them a kiss in return.
Our world is in tangles right now, much like our convertible hair. There are so many changes and an abundance of unrest as our nation struggles with the challenge of an often-fatal virus that remains a mystery. We are facing a reality that has been muffled over the years, a reality that continues to harbor hatred, violence and government unrest, among countless other maladies. And yet, there are still often unexpected miracles in life. On that particular night, at that particular time, seeing those two little ones show such enthusiasm and wonder while witnessing rather old automation and technology brought me great joy. In that one sweet moment, a simple, honest and uncomplicated interaction between me and our most precious resource, our children, took center stage.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to bring Northern Yarns to the Aroostook Republican once again. My goal is to identify lessons in life through everyday encounters, exactly as I have described in this tale of the convertible. Occurrences that seem trivial often deliver the most powerful messages on the wings of simplicity. As far as miracles are concerned, they happen every day. We must open our minds and our hearts and welcome them in.
Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney. You may email her at email@example.com.