At quarter of eight, Mary Lou pushed open the door to Lorenzo’s bakery and overhead the small bell happily jingled, signaling her arrival. A few minutes later, she emerged with a bag of assorted donuts and the luscious smell of sugar and butter swirling in her hair. Noting the bright sun of the early morning, she firmly placed her sunglasses on her face as she walked along the cobblestone sidewalks flanked by wrought iron lampposts. Holding the bag carefully in the crook of her left arm, her purse was slung over her right shoulder and held tightly to her body, melting into the voluptuous curves of her waist.
It was a lovely morning, Mary Lou thought to herself, remembering how the evening before had been so dreary and damp. The sun was rising quickly and the morning already promised a day of warmth. On the transit bus bench in front of Handel’s Hardware, she saw Pete, a local electrician, reading a book. She wanted to wave, but he didn’t look up and she continued along, the crepe soles of her shoes silent on the stone walk.
The farmer’s market was opening in a few minutes and the town was coming to life. Crowds were already patronizing shops and sharing coffees at the little tables in front of the small cafe on Main Street. Mary Lou entered the Coffee Bean, waited in a short line and then ordered her usual large coffee with soymilk and a shot of raspberry. In a few minutes, she was back outside taking small sips of the hot liquid. The coffee was bittersweet to taste, just the way she liked it. She paused on the sidewalk as a group of five young ladies bustled out of a waiting car and passed in front of her. Unaware of her presence, they were apparently eager for an appointment at the beauty salon. As the door shut behind their energetic chattering and she was able to continue on her way, she assumed the occasion was most likely a wedding. She sighed happily. That might mean another new baby soon.
Using her hip to guide the door open, she entered the corner building on Main and Fourth, walking to the right and into a room that welcomed her with the mixed scent of coffee and perfume. It was the Covington Senior Center, and for the past three years on the first Saturday of each month, Mary Lou led the crochet group. She quickly slipped out of her light spring jacket as her group of ladies, which had grown from the original small gathering of four to a bursting assembly of 12, warmly greeted her. They called themselves the Covington Crocheters. As a Christmas gift for Mary Lou, the women had presented her an afghan with the group name intricately crocheted in it.
The group donated their time and talents to make baby blankets for the local hospital. For the past three years, each baby delivered at Covington Mercy Hospital was convivially wrapped in a blanket handmade by one of the town’s ladies for his or her first ride home. It was a great source of pride for the women to look upon the children of the town and know that each of them had been embraced in her creativity.
Mary Lou set the donuts on a waiting platter, next to the percolator on a table at the far end of the room. The women gathered round her, sipping from their Styrofoam cups of steaming decaf coffee. Before they sat down at the center table to begin their morning of crocheting, chatting and laughing, they cheerfully cut into, shared and enjoyed the donuts, smacking lips and dabbing away the powdered sugar at the corners of their mouths.
Mary Lou, as she always did on the first Saturday of each month, looked around and smiled contentedly at her group. Then she reached into the bag and took out the last remaining item – her chocolate covered Bavarian custard crème filled delicacy and enjoyed her morning coffee and donut with the Covington ladies.