Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sharing a Meal

We had a very Zen 4th of July celebration last evening. Hubby and I supplied the food and our friend Debbie supplied the garden setting. The weather was perfect, the company fine, and even the exploding fireworks around us were not too annoying.

When we learned that Debbie's hubby was going to be away visiting his own mother over the 4th, we invited Debbie to share our Independence Day celebration -- whatever that might be. In my past experience, the 4th was usually a time to heat up the kitchen and sweat at the stove frying chicken and stand over the sink peeling potatoes and chopping celery and onions for salad. Initially I had thought, that to avoid this, we would just go out to eat. Then I saw Debbie's sister's garden.

Debbie's sister, also named Melissa, died almost two years ago, leaving Debbie bereft. It is her car that we are currently driving. Melissa was a neat person, full of wonderful stories that she told with a spirit of daring-do that carried you along in them. She and Debbie were very close, living only four blocks apart. Melissa left everything to Debbie, including her old dog, Gracie, and her house with it's perfect garden. Last week Debbie had to say a final farewell to Gracie and send her on to Melissa but the house is being maintained until Debbie decides to what purpose to put it. Meanwhile, avid gardeners, she and her husband perform love-labors to keep up the house and garden with its fountain, koi pond, and wooden gazebo. When we collected the Oldsmobile from that house, we sat for a spell in Melissa's garden, the first time I had seen it -- and it was certainly a place of sanctuary.

So it occurred to me that a 4th of July picnic might be just perfect in Melissa's garden and thus we planned our evening there, with Debbie's consent. I didn't feel like spending time in the kitchen and certainly was unable to stand for long at the kitchen sink, so we used our Sam's card to collect tubs of shaved ham, turkey, and beef along with thinly sliced cheeses and a package of rich buttery croissants. I melon-balled two exotic melons (a yellow canary and a Santa Claus) and got a package of Mount Rainer cherries. Hubby made a macaroni salad and we added in a store-bought apple pie along with some chilled diet Cokes and Starbucks frappuccino. It was a feast.

We sat under Melissa's wooden gazebo, noshing on our croissant sandwiches, enjoying the delicate breezes keeping us cool and relaxed. The koi pond, with its cascading fountain, made for the perfect backdrop of sound and sight. The blue snowballs were in bloom and the surrounding yard was a riot of greens and whites from all Debbie's plantings. Even the fruit trees were bearing plentiful apples. We told our stories of the past. We caught up on current events. We laughed. We hugged Debbie's remaining dog, Maggie, who feared the backyard explosions of firecrackers and bottle rockets.

Sitting together, sharing our lives, we ate and talked until the sun went down. It was a perfect celebration of the 4th of July.

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