The neighbors called in the morning to say they had lettuce to share if we’d like some more. They had fed us generously the week before, our own lettuce crop long since bolted.

We said thank you, yes, we’d love some. We’d swing by in the afternoon.

As we trundled down their driveway after lunchtime, they were both outside (as usual): one gardening, the other sorting through treasures in the shop.

Sage rolled down his car window, smiling, and called to Alan, “I have a project to show you that you’re going to love!” Sage was holding a rolled up set of plans for an ancient Norse tagelharpa. (It’s okay. I had to Google it, too.)

Alan replied with a quick, “And I was about to call you! I have something for you that you’re going to love!” A box of gorgeous pieces of fine wood was set out beside the shop door. He place another piece in the box as we scrambled out of the car.

I felt a wash of gratitude for this unconventional friendship: the sixty-something homesteader and the not quite 16 homeschooler.

We got out of the car, and Shirley paused her work to chat with Lupine. They headed to the spring house for supplies. Emerging with baskets and bags, a knife and some scissors, they headed for the garden.

Another wash, my heart full as I followed along.

There were stories to exchange and projects to discuss and materials to find and even a very dusty vintage VW Beetle hidden away in one of the sheds to see, complete with stories of its own. (Al opened the driver door and reached inside, emerging with what looked like an oversized key for a wind-up toy. He slipped it over a fitting on the back of the car, and explained that it turns when the engine runs. Of course it does.)

Before I knew it, we had spent the afternoon chatting, laughing, finding treasures, and sharing stories.


Hours after we arrived we pulled back onto the road for home, the trunk of our Prius loaded to the roof with a lifetime’s collection of precious wood (dozens and dozens of board feet of some of the loveliest grain I have seen). This collection of potential knife handles was being passed on to Sage, the next generation of knife smiths in our valley. In Sage’s lap was a piece of an old soundboard from a piano as well, destined to sing once more in Sage’s tagelharpa.

And the backseat full as well – of lettuce and bok choy and cucumbers, plus some foraged hoary vervain and garden purslane (Lupine’s favorite, Shirley’s nemesis).

Did I expect anything different than this lovey and generous abundance? I suppose I didn’t. Because when friends get together, that’s the way of things.

And as I see my children joking and talking and learning alongside these kindred spirits so many decades their seniors, that’s just what they are: friends. And it delights me to no end.

Jokes and stores and knowledge are shared as generously and effortlessly as lettuces.

And I’m happy to be both a recipient and a witness to these abundant gifts.

2 thoughts on “Friends

  1. Heidi says:

    What a true blessing to have friends like that in your lives!!
    On another note…..I am drowning in blackberries! Didn’t you post or write an article on canning blackberry shrubs somewhere? I’ve checked all my Taproots & all over the internet & cant find it! Please help.

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