The first time I saw our street, it reminded me of a cross between Charleston’s splashy Rainbow Row and The Truman Show–tall and long-but-narrow houses neatly arranged on postage-stamp lots, one after another after another. The house itself was a pie slice of the home we had lived in previously, but seasons change and it was the right thing at the right time. I wondered how we’d handle living so close to others. It would be getting us out of our cramped apartment, though, and it would be ours.
We grew accustomed to the road noise and folks walking dogs just outside our front window. Rather than feeling claustrophobic living in a much smaller house, I felt comfortably cocooned. My house wasn’t the boss of me demanding that I clean and care for a lot of space; I was coming to understand the difference between things owning me and me owning things.
The house right next to ours sits empty but two doors down I made a friend who eventually would become one of my favorite people in town, the only one whose “no” turned into “yes” when I nervously invited her to try bootcamp with me for the first time. Her husband works with mine, and in less than a year, a co-worker and a workout buddy became real friends. Having neighbors that close who are that close to us is like winning the lottery.
Our neighborhood is cozy and houses are a stone’s throw in every direction, so I couldn’t help but notice when a big blue bow showed up on the mailbox across the street and a few houses up. While most folks would consider the blue bow a universal sign for welcoming a baby boy to the world, to me, it was a Divine sign inviting me to meet my neighbors. I figured anyone with a new baby would be happy for a stranger to show up with dinner.
I asked around and was able to get their name and number; then, introducing myself via a text message, I asked if it would be okay to drop off a meal.
What do you think her answer was? (a very quick yes!)
I made a big batch of soup and baked sourdough – simple, hearty, and ultimate comfort foods. Together with extra muffins I had from that morning, I loaded everything on a tray and walked it across the street and up the hill. I’m mostly an extravert, but even so, part of me felt silly and self conscious, like the meal I was sharing wasn’t good enough or fancy enough or enough enough. I wavered in doubt as I knocked on her door.
As soon as she opened the door, those insecurities vanished. She was warm and sincerely appreciative–if I had shown up with PB&Js she would’ve been grateful. It was also fun connecting with a new mama – it’s been a while since I was one of those – and seeing that sleeping newborn of hers? S i g h…reminded me of my own babies (now bigs).
A month later, I received a text from Lynn that made my day:
Hey Robin, just wanted to tell you that I paid your kind gesture forward. I was strolling P this week & saw another neighbor that has a new baby girl by their sign on the door. I took them supper today & they were very thankful, just like I was!
One awkward, simple, neighborly act inspiring another – isn’t that wonderful? And who knows, maybe it doesn’t end there….
There’s so much to take away from this little story: Kindness begets kindness. Hospitality isn’t confined to home. Giving can bring unexpected reward. It reminds me of when Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
I want to be a noticer of people and their need. I hope even more so to be a responder to people when I learn of their needs.
People are inviting us into their lives everyday. Let’s say yes to those invitations.
- 6 Cups Bread Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- 1/2 - 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1½ Cups Warm Water
- 1 Cup Starter (See notes below)
- Mix together in glass or plastic bowl the flour, salt and sugar; make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, water and starter.
- Mix well.
- Knead for about five minutes, folding "corners" of dough toward center, up and over. It's okay if dough is sticky.
- Also, to keep dough moist, lightly grease bowl and roll dough ball until it's lightly greased, too.
- Cover with a damp dish towel and let it rise in a warm place overnight or all day (8-12 hours).
- Punch down. Knead a few times to work out any air bubbles that might have formed.
- Spray 3 loaf pans with cooking spray and divide dough equally into the 3 pans (shaping into loaf form). Let rise 6 to 8 hours, covered loosely with damp dishcloth.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven when crown of bread is golden brown and flip bread loaves onto cooling rack.
- When cool enough, slice a thick slab of bread, slather in real butter and prepare to hear the angels sing :).
- Here is the starter recipe: http://robindance.me/2016/08/potato-flake-bread-starter-recipe.html