It looked like my traditional weekend supper was going to be a casualty of the pandemic.

You can’t have franks and beans without the beans.

And beans have been in short supply, as they are a cupboard staple and a good source of protein.

I had no problem with the hot dogs — they are pricey organic turkey dogs and probably only five people in Augusta buy them. My favorite beans are B&M Vegetarian, but I was willing to buy anything that didn’t have bacon or pork in it.

First I went to the Hannaford on Whitten Road. All that was left was baked kidney beans, which did not look appealing. OK, so I wasn’t going to be as flexible I thought. Target had nothing. Once I got home, I realized I needed to go out to the Cony Street Hannaford for another reason. So I checked the beans. Again, all that was left: Kidney beans.

I do know how to make baked beans from plain canned beans — even dried beans. And I always keep several cans of unadulterated legumes on hand. I resigned myself to doing what I had to do.

The next morning, I had a brainstorm. Our neighborhood Hannaford probably had been restocked in the night. I asked my early-rising husband, Paul, to go over to see if any B&M Vegetarian beans had reappeared. Really, though, any baked beans except those containing bacon or pork.

He did, and when he returned he said, “You didn’t tell me if you wanted large cans or small ones.”

For a moment, I thought maybe he hadn’t bought any at all. I squelched that image and said, “They had them?”

Yes. Paul had scored three large cans of B&M Vegetarian Baked Beans.

Our regular Sunday night suppah was on again.

In the grand scheme of things, in all the worry and stress and fear the COVID-19 virus is causing, the procurement of baked beans is a minor matter indeed. Paul is over 60 and has asthma. So I am very concerned about this bug.

But I also think there’s value in trying to maintain routines in the midst of crisis. Also, my preoccupation with B&M Vegetarian Baked Beans kept me from indulging in catastrophic thinking.

I find it interesting how quickly we can adapt to “new normals.” When I went to the market today, I really had no expectations. Well, I knew there would be no toilet paper or hand sanitizer. But if there was pasta, I would buy a box or two, regardless of the shape or brand. My favorite tuna was no longer on the shelves, but I made do with what was available.

I have filled my pantry. I didn’t want to, but when I go to the store and see empty shelves, I know I have to plan ahead.

The cashiers at Hannaford’s always say, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”

I couldn’t resist, on the day of my baked bean search, responding to the first cashier, “Well, there’s no toilet paper or hand sanitizer.” I smiled and added, “Not your fault.”

We then had a conversation about reaching a point where you just can’t worry anymore. He was quite sanguine even as he was madly disinfecting all nearby surfaces. The man in line behind me, who was unpacking his overflowing cart, chimed in: “Stress is bad for your immune system.”

At my second Hannaford’s stop, when the cashier asked me if I’d found everything, I said, “There is not a bag of frozen broccoli to be found in Augusta.” I held up a bag. “But I found green beans.” He laughed.

This morning’s cashier caught herself as she started to ask me that question: “I really have to stop myself, but it’s such a habit.”

I told her about my low expectations at this point. She told me about some people who regularly buy groceries for a group home. “They always spend about $400,” she said, “because they are buying for 15 people.”

Yet they had been harassed by other customers who thought they were hoarding. She sadly shook her head.

That was the first I heard of bad behavior stemming from this crisis. I should say, beyond the hoarding of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

When I’ve been out shopping, people have been civil, although on my last excursion I did have two fellow customers whip their carts around the corner of an aisle and nearly crash into me. Then there was the woman who got way too close to me in the peanut butter aisle as she reached to forcefully grab a jar.

Any anger and frustration people are feeling will only get worse. It pays to have a sense of humor.

Paul and I were in a small, local restaurant over the weekend. The server, who was behind the counter, sneezed loudly several times. She quickly said, “I have allergies all year round. I’m not sick. Allergies!”

We all laughed. Moments like those, and my stash of B&M Vegetarian Beans are going to see me through this thing. Yes, they are.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected].


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