Wednesday, September 23, 2009


One thing I relish with my time off from the bus job is being able to talk to the neighbors. It's not so much about having time but about being around when they are, being available to just run into them in the natural course of our days.

I was on my way over to work on Dawdy House early this evening and took a moment to appreciate the ornamental sweet potatoes that are flourishing around the farm sign. So I noticed my neighbor in front walking to get her mail. I said "hi" and we exchanged a few pleasantries, plus a reminder that she really would like me to get that tree trimmed. It will have to wait...chatting with another neighbor at a garage sale last weekend brought me the news that my tree trimmer guy is currently biking across India, which would explain why he hasn't returned my phone call.

As we talked, I noticed something odd at the neighbor's garden across the street, and I saw his garage door open, so I wandered over there to make sure he was aware of it. He was, of course...and filled me in on all the details. And then some.

While we were chatting, the neighbor across from HIM wandered across and we chatted some more. Local politics, local history, local gossip. We are quite a motley crew, spanning several generations and several income brackets and the whole spectrum of political and religious beliefs. But first and foremost, WE are the 500 block of North Street.

The evening production of the North Street News ended when I noticed a strange car pulling hesitantly into my driveway. I bid farewell and ran to see who it was. I wasn't expecting anyone.

And of all the people I wasn't expecting, I most wasn't expecting Beth, who I understood to be either in California or being an airline flight attendant--not leaping out of her car to give me a big hug.

Beth is one of those people who came through my life (as a housemate at the farm) for a very brief time, but is here to stay in my heart. Part and parcel of the farm, forever.

Beth, the C.S. Lewis fan. Yesterday Eider's ram lamb finally found a name, Aslan, because the shearer left a tuft of wool on the tip of his undocked tail, making it rather lion-like, and I had just Sunday found the whole Narnia series in hardback at a garage sale (see paragraph 2 above).

Beth, the creator of the meditation swing on the edge of the wilderness area at the farm. Beth, seeking God and sharing her faith through every sense, through dance and music and drama and journalism and listening and just being there.

Beth, the photographer who captured the timeless black and white image of my quirky laundry hanging on the line (note to self: hang laundry tonight). A few days ago my current housemate presented me with a wonderful color photo quirky laundry hanging on the line. OK, so I have photogenic underwear. There's something charmingly nostalgic and non-sexy about long johns flapping in the breeze in a disembodied dance.

Beth, one of my dearest and sweetest Christian friends, who is undertaking to become a full-time missionary. Her dream is helping of women and children who have survived sex trafficking--an issue most Americans have their heads in the sand about. I learned a great deal about this issue during my stay at Holy Names House of Peace in Winnipeg when I lived there in 2005.

Beth. Younger than my daughter, a mentor, a minister, a forever friend. A gift from God.

A visit I will cherish in my heart until our paths cross again, in a year or 5.

I gave her a tomato as she left, after a couple too-short hours of singing, piano playing, laughing, story telling, hugs, tears of joy and amazement.

"Here," I said. "You must eat this. Then the calcium in it will be in your bones, and you will carry that little bit of the farm with you whereever you go. And you really must visit at least every seven years, so that there is always the farm in your bones."

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