We spent Sunday evening at Randa’s brother’s house, having been enticed by Cheryl’s offer of ham and bean soup. I was expecting the typical Midwestern dish consisting of a lot of white beans and a little bit of ham, which is well worth the trip. Instead, she’d made Cheryl’s version: a dozen varieties of beans in thick stock with so many chunks of ham you couldn’t dip out a ladleful without getting meat in it. Knowing what a great cook Cheryl is, I should not have been surprised. Sometimes, I just expect too little, which makes for better surprises than expecting too much, like hoping Houston would beat New England.
We watched the Patriots topple the Texans while we ate soup and two versions of cornbread. I chose to load up on Cheryl’s Cornbread and go easy on the experimental sample of Larry the Cable Guy’s Spicy Cornbread. It was a good choice; my tongue is still tingling.
After the game was over, we left, starting our goodbyes in the kitchen and finishing them at the front door. The January night was a quick and stark contrast to the warmth of Kevin and Cheryl’s home. The sting of the air left little doubt that we’d get down to single digits overnight. The least sliver of a white winter moon hung low in the sky as we came up the ramp onto 36-West and crossed the Missouri River into Kansas. In the next nine miles, we met fewer than a dozen vehicles. By the time we got home, the moon’s thin slice had yellowed.
Turning into the driveway, we saw the sparkle of ice crystals on the grass, a thousand glints as the headlights swept across the field. This was something beyond frost, a harder cold collecting the moisture and turning it into this quick, brief spectacle added to the ending of this good day’s blessings.