Unimagined Benefits

This week I hosted dinner for some college friends. One friend stayed with J and I while in town for a conference. We agreed to dinner on Wednesday for the group.

After watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup, our guest expressed some concern that we would be out to dinner during Game 7. “No, I’m going to cook,” I said. Since discovering my gluten intolerance, I cook for groups and eat out much less. This practice saves me from unexpected surprises.

Wednesday rolled around without much notice, or so it seemed. Buying, and forgetting, groceries at the last minute, I asked our guest to run to the store for ginger. She agreed, while I made pear salsa from the pears included in this week’s produce bin, the jalapeno from farmer’s market, throw in a Vidalia onion, red onion, red pepper and lemon juice. Then let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

As the first guests arrived with their 19 month old, everyone chatted and socialized not having seen our houseguest in awhile. The weather outside changed progressively to match the thunderstorm watches and warnings. Inside, the house felt bright and happy. I heard the sounds of the “toys” we keep hitting the floor. The 19 month old sought out the refrigerator alphabet kept specially for my friends’ children.

Another friend arrived on foot with her dog to join Sugar and Max in the backyard. Her husband would follow, she said, when their two year awoke from a late afternoon nap. The dogs joined us inside as the skies darkened and rain fell.

One friend joined me for cooking, as I acknowledged that my time management and planning had not been very effective. We chopped vegetables and cooked listening to the BBC on NPR and chatting. The pork roasts cooked in stages, taking longer than I planned.

As the meal came together at last, we gathered at the table. Minus the 2 year old and his father, and J who had an appointment. The storm added lovely punctuation to our meal. We ate, we talked, we watched the 19 month old. Most importantly we laughed and smiled. My friend’s dog rested at her feet.

The table was cleared unexpectedly. I discovered much to my joy the dishwasher filled and started while I ate. After the worst of the storm passed, we still had power. Our group passed easily back to the living room from the dining room. When the storm refugees arrived, the party regrouped to the table. While I sat on the couch with my dogs to calm them as the weakened storm continued, the wonderful sounds of friendship caught my attention. We would have missed this communion at a restaurant. What a blessing!

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