Thankful for the Acorn and the Native BagelNov 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Gayle Morrow
Ping! Ding! Thunk! Ouch—*^#$ing acorns! It is a banner year for the fruit of the oak. The yard and driveway are full of them—it’s like walking on marbles. I think the squirrels are taking great pleasure in this large crop, and I know they sit, hidden, in the trees’ uppermost branches, lobbing the acorns down on our heads and vehicles. (“You think that squirrel-proof birdfeeder is funny? Here! Take this!”)
I don’t know what abundant mast portends. Is it a harbinger of anything—hard winter, easy winter, the end times, or just oaks doing what oaks do? We’ll know in April. I try not to second-guess Mother Nature, and I try not to look too far ahead. Anxiety and all that…
Some people do clever things with acorns—crafts, flour, slingshot ammo—but I haven’t yet found the wherewithal to look at my yard and driveway with any sort of creativity in mind. I do, however, have one acorn that is pretty special. Here’s why.
I’ve been visiting the Native Bagel here in Wellsboro since it opened in 1997. Sue Cummings, who just closed the business in July, has been part of it all since all the N.B.’s deliciousness started pouring out of the kitchen and into us.
“That was my life—for twenty-seven years I did that every single day and I loved every minute of it,” she says. She started out as an employee, then became a partner, and eventually purchased the business. The Native Bagel was the kind of place that every small town should have—the place where everybody knows your name, to borrow a phrase. And Sue knew her customers.
“The important thing to me was making people happy,” she says. “But people come in, and you know they’re hurting…”
It was busy this particular day, as it almost always was. Sue was behind the counter, making sandwiches. She always had a big smile for me—she had a big smile for everyone. But she knew I was hurting. Maybe not why, but that didn’t matter. She asked me how I was doing. I wasn’t doing. Suddenly I couldn’t stop the tears. Well, didn’t she stop what she was doing, come out from behind the counter, and give me a big hug. A bit later, as I was leaving with my goodies—probably a jumbo bag of bagel chips (weren’t they just the best?) and a latte—she came back out from behind the counter and gave me a talisman. It’s a little, hard-plastic acorn that she said someone had given her—for luck, for love, to make her feel better, whatever reason she had received it, she passed that goodness on to me on one of those days when I so needed all those things.
I know about paying it forward, but I need this particular acorn for myself, just a little longer. The ones under my feet are a blessing to the natural world; this one is a blessing to me. Thanks, Sue.