Putting Down Roots


in which things fall into my lap (not literally)
September 29, 2011, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tonight, after a somewhat discouraging meeting about the amount of food-garden-building work there is right now in Tallahassee (not much) and thus the amount of work I will be able to do building food gardens (not much), I was feeling, well, discouraged. Left to my own devices, I probably would have brooded and worried and continued applying for ridiculous jobs on craigslist (this is another story, but I inadvertently almost applied to a business that writes papers that students and businessmen and whoever can then claim as their own; to my credit, the ad was for “writers, any type”). Luckily, I had plans to go over and have dinner with my friends Bevery and Ellen.

I parked my bike in Bev’s front yard, and Ellen called me into the sunroom where Beverly had a big table pulled out in the center of the room and was assembling a pasta maker according to directions which were, I discovered, written in Italian. They had made the dough already, so I set to cranking it out into increasingly thinner sheets while I regaled them with stories about summer camp.

The noodles–we made linguini–were delicious, and while we were slurping them down and discussing the fact that, in Italy, one always specifies whether she ate dry pasta or fresh pasta, there was a knock on the door. It was Cate, a five year old who acquaintance I had first made when she was jumping on Beverly’s trampoline last spring, along with her mother and another little girl, collecting cans for a food drive. Somewhere in the bustle of finding cans of tuna in the pantry, the girls jumping on the trampoline, and Mandy (Cate’s mom) trying the pasta and being unimpressed, it came out that I had just finished a summer working at camp.

Mandy turned to me and asked, “so, do you ever plan events for groups of children?” Cate was soon to be turning six, and there had been talk of a birthday party. What immediately flashed through my head was a terrifying image of a clown making balloon animals, but even so I said, “well, I certainly could.”

She rifled through Beverly’s kitchen for a pad of paper, and wrote down details about the party, all the while explaining to me that she would pay me $50 to play with an apparently very agreeable group of girls for one hour, which is exactly what I had done all summer long while getting paid approximately 1/15th of the amount, maybe less, depending on how you measure.

It was Ellen who volunteered that I was also looking for babysitting work, and Mandy’s jaw dropped as though I had just borne the baby Jesus himself. Their sitter, apparently, had quit in June, and Cate’s parents hadn’t had a Cate-less night since then. “Can I call you tomorrow?” she asked. “You sure can.”

Beatrice and I were talking the other night about Jesus feeding five thousand people from a few loaves of bread and a couple fishes: one of my favorite stories about how there is always enough to go around. You can worry, and fret, and do all the math that shows that there won’t be enough food (or enough jobs, or enough money to pay all the monthly bills), but somehow, when you do what you know you’re supposed to do, everything you need ends up getting provided for.

I have been seeing this sort of provision in ways that are strange and hilarious and comforting: in addition to the slip of paper with the party details (and a recipe for tofu “neatballs”), I left Bev’s house with a homegrown squash, a jar of pickled okra, and a jar of pickled asparagus; Mary Elizabeth sent me home from her and Nathan’s house a few days ago with homemade bread and hummus, and the day after that with leftover rice and beans; I found out today that I can get three free dinners a week going to various church-related events that I would be going to anyway; I left a meeting with my pastor today with tips on two different families who might want a nanny for adorable tiny babies.

And that, my friends, is exactly what I need.

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