Late in the afternoon, just as I’d finished my last conference call of the day, I saw someone walk up onto our front porch and ring the doorbell. It was a neighbor I’d never formally met, one who sat on the homeowners’ association board with my husband. And she was bringing a gift: three giant zucchinis.
Her boss, she explained, decided to get into gardening—and REALLY got into it. Not understanding that these are gourds that multiply, she planted ten of these beauties, and now the entire office was at risk of burial by zucchini. I invited her in, and as it happened, on the kitchen counter was Vivian Howard’s cookbook, open to the squash section. I’d been reading it and looking forward to later in the summer when zucchini would be plentiful and cheap.
My neighbor glanced with interest at the squash glamor shots, and out came her phone to capture several of the recipes. She left with a promise of more zucchini and possibly tomatoes: her boss had planted 50 tomato plants in her “garden.”
That evening we feasted on squash and onions (I pan-fried almond-crusted tilapia fillets to go on top). Was it just my imagination, or did the meal taste especially good because it was a gift? Was I more a part of the community for having accepted the gift, and given something in return? Perhaps being part of a community where people look out for each other, something our grandparents took for granted, is a balm.
When Phil and I are Roamers, we look forward to making connections, even (or especially?) brief ones, wherever we go. And we hope to spread and receive kindness, and to be good neighbors.
The recipe I made with the gift