I was caught, rather delightfully, by a reader of this column in the middle of that sunny afternoon last week. She found me in the back of the U-Haul outside the Tractor Supply store, which was — let me think now (counts on fingers) — the tenth place out of twelve I’d stop that day to collect items for this particular trip over water. When the friendly stranger asked me if I was Eva, I was piling 50 lb. bags of chicken feed in the truck, cracked corn for Tony who, not surprisingly, pays his freight bill in eggs.

Tractor Supply is a culturally interesting place. I have heard lifelong Mainers affect a bit of a Kentucky drawl after spending enough time wandering the aisles in there. Maybe it’s the music. I don’t ordinarily go to browse, being more inclined to do my recreational shopping at smaller and older hardware stores, but the Tractor Supply is starting to become one of the regular stops when I do these island freight runs. I go when sent, to collect somebody else’s animal’s belongings, so I usually end up at the customer service desk. Right beside the customer service desk are all the fuzzy little baby chicks.

It’s fun to look at the little chicks. I get to say that, in all agricultural naiveté, because I do not happen to raise chickens. Over the 33 years I’ve lived on our Isle Out to Sea I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked why my household does not keep chickens. At this point, with children grown and gone (children being the primary reason most non-farmers do, in my observation, keep chickens) I can say that the reason I do not keep chickens is that enough other people do.

They know my name at several lumberyards around here because I come around once or twice a month, more or less, to collect other people’s stuff. I announce that I’m there to pick up the orders for Jingleheimer and McGillicuddy and Murgatroyd; then, the clerk usually asks me some question about an order which I cannot hope to answer. I might offer a guess. Last week, we loaded T-111 siding for this one and pine for that one and cedar clapboards for somebody else, three replacement windows for my place, and plywood for the new Children’s Library floor. In the good old days one didn’t treat a sheet of plywood like a pane of glass, but I found myself fussing over the little stack in hopes of preventing any treading on the edges. Don’t want to mung anything up if we can help it! Paying $50 a sheet can make a person think that way.

Any contributors toward the library Plywood Fund will receive a proper receipt from the 501(c)(3) and a nice thank-you note written in cursive.

Through the day I loaded a lawn mower and a washing machine, a freezer and a water pump, furniture, tool boxes and the aforementioned 300 pounds of chicken feed. I loaded groceries for other people (including tofu and bleu cheese) and for myself (including most definitely neither). I loaded bird seed and bleach and bar-and-chain oil, fertilizer and bark mulch and organic potting soil, live plants for the island cemetery, paint for the library floors, and a half dozen chickens. I mean, from the meat aisle, in a cooler. Yeah … no. Not that kind of chickens. I could have. I really could have, as the time I spent loitering around in company with the live chicks at Tractor Supply did not fail to make an impression. But I’m hoisting and schlepping enough chicken feed around by U-Haul for other people and, anyway, I don’t need more hobbies.

The next morning — ferry day — dawned calm and still, an uncommon treat that can turn one of these freight-out, recycling-back trips into a pleasure cruise. I put the

U-Haul in the customary approved spot, known only to regulars as “the Matinicus line” as there is usually no such line within the ferry terminal environs, and affixed a sheet of notebook paper to the truck’s lift door with electrical tape indicating the following: “No jerry cans. No gas/diesel. No propane grill tanks.” People always put stuff in my truck, and they don’t like the rules. I don’t make the rules but I agree with that particular rule because gasoline packed in with groceries makes the Saltine crackers taste funny.

I said hi to Andy from Vinalhaven and laughed about somebody else’s silly load with Steve the line guy. Then, as other ferry riders with their own overloaded pickup trucks and hand carts began to assemble, I headed down Main Street in search of good coffee. It was a lovely morning and I had a few minutes to spare. Things don’t get much better.