Summertime, and the shopping is ea-a-a-a-sy. Bargains jumpin', and the taxes are high. Oh, your daddy's rich and your mama's "just lookin.' " So hush, summer shopper, do-o-o-on't you cry.

Unless you're Jane Edwards of Annandale. Who did some summer shopping. And lost her knitting. And may well still be crying, for all I know.

Jane descended on Springfield Mall one recent Thursday to get a haircut, buy a flashlight and hunt for a nightgown. Having succeeded on all three fronts, Jane was back in the car and halfway to the gas station when she realized she had left her knitting behind. But she knew not where.

Jane retraced her steps -- to the hair salon, to Garfinckel's, to Herman's, and finally to the mall's central lost and found. But no soap.

"Believe me," she writes, "the 50 hours of cross-stitching hurts worse than the $30" worth of yarn.

But what doesn't hurt at all is the idea that jumped up and bit Jane in the midst of her misfortune.

She had had the time and the determination to check the lost-and-founds at both the individual stores and the mall's central offices. But what if someone lost something in a store, went there and found nothing. Would that person always know enough to try the mall's central lost-and-found, too?

Jane doubts it, and I do, too. Her idea: Make it policy at the major malls for individual stores to hold onto found items for only a very short time. Then turn the items over to a central lost-and-found -- and erect signs in the individual stores notifying customers that that's the standard procedure.

Sounds easy, cheap and effective to me.