How do I accurately explain the warmth and wonderfulness of our neighborhood (is "wonderfulness" a word??). It's been raining unbelievable amounts for a few weeks now. We've had 8.7 inches since October 1--many places around us are up to more than 20 inches in that same time frame. Windshield wiper blades scrape back and forth in near constant motion, intersections are flooded with water trying its best to make it down the drains but being blocked by inches-deep colorful leaves that plug up the street drains. I rarely mind the rain....in fact it bring a sense of comfort and solitude sometimes....but plenty of folks around here survive on anti-depressants and need their time away in the sun during the winter. Friday afternoon was one of those gray, wet days (and the good news is that winter isn't officially even here yet!).
The phone rings, it's our fantastic neighbors calling (you know, the kind of neighbors where you get to use the back door instead of the front): "Hey, what are you guys doing tonight? It's so rainy and dreary....would you like to come over for dinner?"
Me: "Definitely, we'll be there." (Go ahead, twist my arm.) So, the husband and me were more than happy to scratch our tentative plans to go see "Conventioneers."
Out comes a bottle of deliciously yummy French red wine (given to us by the Lufthansa flight attendant crew last fall on our European adventure); a couple of fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade chicken pot pies filled with potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onion; a very cool salad with apples, greens, and an awesome dressing; creamy hot polenta baked with garlic, cheese and other goodies buried deep inside; followed by warm apple crisp with whole crunchy cinnamon sticks straight out of the oven. Oh, and did I mention the aromatic hot fresh tea? I mean, the whole evening was exactly the reason we love living right here. The comforting sense of being in a neighborhood, the warmth of sharing the end of a busy week in the home of good friends. To know that it's pouring gray wet rain outside (and that it's going to continue for many months to come) and, yet, you're inside around an old, incredibly heavy, farm table with nine very cool people...sharing, listening, interrupting, laughing, being crazy, talking politics, work, food, meeting a very nice gay couple for the first time. You know what I mean.....it's something about the safety of community, of belonging, inclusivity, of not having to dress up or put on your pretty going-out face (which is getting harder and harder to accomplish), of being able to ask questions or make comments without being judged or accused.....so totally filled with acceptance, warmth, caring, a net of security. I couldn't have crafted a better time. And we didn't have to travel to some far-flung corner of the globe. It was right here in our neighborhood, with its beautiful tree-lined streets and tons of brightly-colored leaves on the soaked ground while the wind blew and the cold rains fell. It was "deliciously frittered away time that fed the soul." We were more than taken care of, more than wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day, more than chicken soup when you're sick. Much more.