by Leslie

I love to barter, and always have. What a wonderful concept – exchanging items that are unwanted for those that are wanted. No money passes hands; none needs to.

Many years ago, while living in St Louis, I bartered with several close friends on a regular basis. It wasn’t planned; it just came to be. What did we barter? Plants, books, food, skills … Our friendships deepened; our lives were enriched, without gaining or losing one cent.

When my husband, Bill, and I went to the Virgin Islands, we stayed at the ecologically constructed and run, Maho Bay tent-cabin “resort.” Built into the verdant hillsides, it was topped by a tiny little “store” where on an honor basis, you exchanged items you did not want (but had carried all the way from the mainland U.S.) for those that you did. After several mornings of instant oatmeal, we were seeking a change in our “breakfast menu.” With oatmeal (and other assorted unwanted items) in hand, I entered the little store – and how lucky I was. A woman returning the N.Y.C. with her husband was just divesting herself of the remaining bagels she had brought with her. I was delighted. As I scooped them up, she handed me an additional little package – “Darling, here’s the cream cheese. You can’t have bagels without cream cheese.”

I’ve continued to barter in Tucson; but now am more often the recipient that the donor. But I keep trying. After all, one woman’s trash will always eventually find itself a treasure in another woman’s hands.

July 2013

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