• Last modified 874 days ago (May 6, 2020)


Another Day in the Country

The Red Bag

© Another Day in the Country

This story begins in California a couple of years ago.

Someone gave my daughter a beautiful, posh looking, box of chocolates for Christmas and the box came in this custom-made red paper bag with gold trim and slim gold braid handles for carrying. It was a beautiful presentation!

Jana shared the contents with all of us, and we relished every bite. Each gorgeous chocolate was like a little present on its own. Each little encasement of bitter, sweet, or milk chocolate held the contents as a surprise! 

These weren’t the kind of chocolates you cut in half to test what’s inside. That would have been a violation of the beautiful exterior. With these morsels, you must be brave, take a bite, and then savor the flavor. These chocolate candies even smelled good!

All too soon the chocolates were consumed.

I don’t know what Jana did with the box, but she is really good at throwing things away, not at keeping all kinds of miscellaneous odds and ends around, “just in case.” She didn’t get that trait from her mother!

When I saw the bag going out along with all the extra Christmas wrapping that had been torn off packages I asked, “You don’t want this bag?”

She shook her head.

“Then I’m taking it home,” I announced.

Back in Ramona, the beautiful red bag with gold trim found its way into my guest closet with a whole bunch of other bags that had been saved from gifts I’d received or gifts I planned to give — it’s the “just in case I need them” stash. And, they do come in handy.

Not long after, I needed to use some very ripe bananas and went hunting on the Internet for a recipe for banana muffins. Found it!

I made those muffins in a flash, and they were so delicious, I couldn’t just eat them all. Twelve muffins are too many muffins for just one person, so I decided to share. Some I could just walk across the street and hand deliver; but when I set four aside to take to my Mayberry friends in Abilene, I needed something to carry them in. 

Sitting right there on the closet shelf, last bag in, first bag out, was the Red Bag.

“Perfect,” I said to no one in particular, grabbed a sheet of tissue paper, put it around those muffins and into the bag they went, along with the latest issue of The Marion Record which I’d already read and I always share with my friend Gordon who then shares it with his sister, etc.

DeAnne was impressed with the Red Bag! And it turned out they also loved the banana muffins.

A week or two went by, and when I came to exercise, she waved the Red Bag.

“We went to Amish country and we brought you back some of that black licorice you love.” 

It’s been a couple of years now, and the Red Bag has been going back and forth between our two households regularly. At first, it was humorous — this strangely elegant little red bag showing up at an exercise place, handed off with a wild variety of contents.

I made ratatouille crepes with egg plant, zucchini, onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes sautéed with basil and Swiss cheese. “You are going to love these,” I told DeAnne as I handed her the Red Bag.

A couple of weeks later she brought little banana nut bread loaves made with black walnuts!

Of course, they were in the Red Bag.

The Red Bag has been changing hands now for a couple of years. Inside have been books, magazines, newspaper articles, cookies, birthday gifts, second-hand jewelry, and Valentine surprises.

While the contents are lovely, the fact that these little gifts come in the Red Bag make them even more enjoyable.

Years ago another longtime friend sent me a silver filigree ball about the size of a Christmas ornament. It was hinged to open, and inside was a little gift with a note that said, “This is a gifting ball to be sent back and forth between friends.”

It was such a good idea and we tried valiantly to make that ball work, sending it between Kansas and Idaho; but the silly thing was full of complications. The ball was too small for most things and awkward (as well as expensive) to send in the mail, so sadly, I still have it in a drawer somewhere, rarely seen, and seldom used.

However, that throw-away version of Christmas opulence, the Red Bag, came to function as a wonderful gifting bag. So far, it’s held up well. Now the question is, how long will it last?

I haven’t been making trips to exercise for a while, but the Red Bag traveled again this week. My friend and I met at the grocery store, smiling behind our masks, early on a Saturday morning. She brought empty egg cartons back to me; I had several dozen eggs for her and the Red Bag. Perhaps you guessed it — I’d gotten hungry, again, for ratatouille crepes on another day in the country.

Last modified May 6, 2020