When we first moved to this ghost town I was a city girl inside and out, backwards and forwards, absolutely, positively through and through.
I had tearfully said Goodbye to my older, middle class home with central heat and air and a digital thermostat, less than two miles from Trader Joe’s and Taco Bell and LOWE’s and grocery stores open 24/7, and the freeway that took me to across the desert to my dearest friends and relatives.
Then I left all those friends and relatives and modern conveniences, to come here. To an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere surrounded by other old houses in various states of ruin. To a wood stove and an ax for winter’s heat—plus a pile of afghans and down comforters.
It’s a fact: there are more wild turkeys in this town than there are people. Besides the few houses still inhabited, there’s a church that holds services two or three times a year, a park and community hall, a post office, a bar, and a couple gift shops.
We’d only been in the house a week or so, when I took off for an all-day shopping trip to the Valley, a twice a month excursion still. (I leave around 9 in the morning, come home anywhere between 6 and 9 in the evening, if lines aren’t too long and I don’t get overly distracted by sales or the new season’s styles.)
On this particular day 10-plus years ago I arrived home as the sun was sinking below the horizon.
Emily came out to greet me as I pulled into the driveway.
Mom, guess what! You don’t have to cook tonight! Our new neighbors brought us dinner! (We were actually the new neighbors, but she was only seven at the time, and they were new to us, so…) And they have kids my age!
Up the road lived Christie: a home school mom, beloved wife, devoted Christian and neighbor extraordinaire. She had sent a wagon-load of dinner, pulled by two of her kids earlier that day.
When I entered the house and stepped into the kitchen, there on the table was our dinner—comfort food of the best kind—waiting to be enjoyed by this family who felt like strangers in an even stranger land. I will never, ever forget that meal and the sense of being loved and welcomed to this place.
Warm beef stew, homemade bread, cookies and home-canned applesauce. Suddenly this house, with its drafty windows, ugly linoleum, and all the wrong colors of paint and paper on the walls, began to feel a little like home. We talked. We laughed. We said, Ummm a lot. And we savored every bite.
I still have the note she tucked into the basket.
(Photo of church courtesy of Jon Bock, of a painting by Duncan Spencer)