Archive for Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sharing sweet rolls, friendship

August 21, 2008

There is a house along the parade route, where we used to gather for Tiblow Days. It is a big two-story, frame house -much like the farm house where the woman who owned the house when we gathered there lived in her early years in Nebraska.

I don't pass that house this time of year, with its open porch and big glass windows, that I don't think about the women who gathered there. We ranged in age from early 20s to upper 80s; working, retired, and homemakers; married, widowed, single; aunts and grandmothers; serious and not so serious. There were other ways in which we differed but if anyone really cared about our differences, no one ever said so.

We each had chores: food to bake, drinks to bring, decorations for the porch, clean and dry the seat cushions for the glider-clunky metal with bright red cushions, aged by sun and rain. The best coffee I ever drank was on that morning - Frannie steadfastly refused to say how she did it, though we speculated; egg shells in the coffee grounds perhaps; we never knew.

The secret of good coffee went with her.

What she, and others like her did leave us was with a sense of joy in living; the appreciation of the small things in life - like a cup of good coffee; fresh-squeezed orange juice; sweet rolls made from scratch; a vase of late summer flowers - most often, the Kansas cone flower, pink petals surrounding a heavy, dark center on long green, sandpaper stems; the moon rising like a large pendant hung on the bosom of earth.

The sweet rolls were a special gift to the Nebraska woman who owned the house; a small, circular roll, with a fruit filled center, made first by Scandinavian women who settled in the desolate Nebraska prairie far from their native land. There were times I think she felt far from her Nebraska beginnings; found solace in the friends who gathered on her porch in the later of years of her life.

Many of us drift over time from our beginnings, set a float by circumstances of life, who find ourselves anchored by the friends who tether us to the fine and enduring things in life; who when they leave us, give us a sense that the tether of friendship is a fine, gold chord that attaches over time and space; keeps us grounded when the winds of time and change blow fierce.

It was not the secret of coffee we shared; it was the story of friendship.

I am reminded to watch the moon rising over the river; to listen for the honking of the geese winging their way south and to wait for their return in the spring; to fill a vase with flowers. Memory is a ballast against time and tide; such friendships our anchor.

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