After everyone has had all they want of my Mad Hawaiian Chili, we sit and talk at the table: Randa, Sam, me and a younger couple that Randa and I have known for several years. Conversation continues with fruit salad and Randa’s mighty fine strawberry bread. After that, I offer samples of my latest batch of authentic hand-milled Kansas cider.
Our guests have had my cider before: the first year was not too bad but last year’s batch had a harsh edge to it. Their skepticism is understandable but this year’s product is the best I’ve ever made: smooth, slightly sweet but still crisp and clean. I watch each one carefully as she or he tries it and am pleased with the responses.
Later we move into what Randa likes to call “our fancy sittin’ room,” a la The Beverly Hillbillies. Softer seats with a bit more room does seem like a pretty good idea after dinner. We sit and share our histories, perceptions, challenges and joys. Of course, we could have continued with the light banter, surface questions and such but something about the night seemed to invite a deeper knowing.
In the process of those revelations, we gain greater understanding of one another and ourselves. We find a deeper basis for relationships which are already strong. There is an extension of each into the other, a more colored and textured knowing, a greater intimacy.
As the night passes, I feel that I have gained something that does not decline or fade away. There are no deposit slips for valued visits and precious time, but their worth does not decline with the years. Treasures such as this are not put at risk with the ebb and flow of the stock market. And the dividends they pay are without measure.
We may have lots of acquaintances and many colleagues but I never met a man who had too many friends. We have about as many as the time we’re willing to spend.