Last night’s gathering at our home and a comment about fireflies from Michael Doyle over at Science Teacher put some pieces together for me this morning.
Last evening we hosted a welcome potluck for the students from Japan that are visiting my daughter’s school and their host families. We had twenty families and their Japanese “children” here for a crowded night of meeting, eating, laughing, planning, and problem solving.
The meeting, laughing, and planning parts come pretty naturally. Jam enough bodies in the room, and you have to talk to people. The eating part came up against the problem solving part. I was expecting 89 people, and we had that – more or less – and so I had been hunting and gathering, bringing home pieces of chicken that numbered over 100. Now, few homes can cook that much food at once, but being an old restaurant hand, the oven that I have in our kitchen can fit four full sheet pans. The oven, as you might expect, was full.
But the oven, in true Bartleby the scrivener fashion, preferred not to. Heat to the necessary 350-400° that is. This was a problem. Lots of hungry people and a lot of, literally*, half baked chicken.
So, Sam springs into grill mode and finishes cooking 100+ pieces of chicken on the grill. We serve everyone the chicken, plus all the lovely side dishes that arrived – salads, baked Mac and Cheese, fruit, bread, olives, desserts.
The house is jammed, you can’t get to the buffet table because everyone is talking to each other, and everyone is having a great time. There is an abundance of good will, flashing cameras, friendship across continents and across the city, and patience with delays, language barriers, and new faces.
Our house has always called to me. Even when I didn’t live it and only visited it, I felt welcome here as in no other home I have lived in, even my childhood homes. Our house at 709 and our grandmother’s house in Madison, SD almost had the deep call that this building and yard has for me. I can’t say why; I only know it is there. Last night it worked its magic on other people. And Michael’s comment about fireflies reminded me of another night.
My niece Sissy had just celebrated her marriage with all the family gathered, and my cousins were in from San Francisco. It was a beautiful evening, and the adults were in the dining room, enjoying that post-dinner glass of wine and talking around the table. The evening was finally getting dark, and all the children were in the yard, running, swinging, and laughing. As the sky turned that blue (the blue that only exists in the moment that the sun has gone completely past the horizon but you can still see well) the fireflies came out. First one or two, and then so many you couldn’t count.
A shriek of delight from Griffin, child of San Francisco, who had never seen a firefly. Fireflies are so thoughtful. They hang in the air, pulsing green, waiting for you to hold out your hand – Griff gathered them in a jar, watched them for a long time, and then shook them back out onto the lawn.
Wendy, his mother, over the dining room table, told us that – that was it – they weren’t leaving. What we had here was an abundance of abundance.
And as I plant again today, and remember the laughter of last night, I have to agree.
* thank you, Steve.
photo by flickr member jdl_deleon
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You make me want a home.
I am a lucky woman, I know. Come to Chicago and let this house work its magic on you, too. You are welcome anytime.
To paraphrase the Tao Te Ching: The home will appear when the mortgage holder is ready.
Clay, you need to come home.
The world is amazing and wonderful and huge and scary and demands to be seen and explored.
Still, we are all mortal. We can never explore it to our satisfaction.
We each need a patch of world, a backyard, a flower pot, even a tiny corner in a cell where ants come and go, to truly call our own.
Ain’t Kate just grand?
When I was living on the boat, I knew that eventually I would need my garden. The water under the boat seemed like something out of a Jungian nightmare – limitless and rootless.
The poetry that I wrote at the time spoke to the lack of the tether. I agree, we all need a place to call our own.
Okay, so I am late getting things read, but I still have to comment. The house may contribute, but it isn’t really the house that calls to people… It is the home. You are the home. Your children are the home. Just like Gramma T was in Madison and we all were in Brookings. We carry the home wherever we are. Trust me if we were in a sod house, a pup tent, a rented villa in FL or Italy it would still be filled with friends, family, and food.
Okay, Liz – I agree, that wherever we are, there is home. That is a truth universally acknowledged. I’m hoping to avoid the pup tent, with the economy…
But, I will say, that even when Jean and Bill lived in this home and it was a beautiful wreck this house had something that spoke to me. I can remember sitting in the side yard, avoiding the massive piles of dog poop, and wondering to myself why they were so lucky as to be the family that lived in this house. And I know that the floor-to-ceiling birdcages on the first floor freaked us all out (especially you), but this house has got something.
I love this week. Passover Seder tomorrow and Easter on Sunday. And friends in from Minneapolis to add to the fun. Hope you get to be Elijah and we see you tomorrow.