We're having multiple rains over the last two days, and I've got to tell you, I'm delighted. Things have been so parched up here on the Plateau. Because we're mostly rock, we can't store much water. So when we go long without rain, we get really, really dry. Last summer they said it was a drought, but my garden did well (with watering), so it was hard to believe. This summer it has been really dry, and they imposed voluntary water restrictions (asking people not to water -- which I notice many did not observe, as their automatic sprinklers were going strong during my morning runs), and warned us about fires (people burn brush a lot here, and I have a fire pit where I burn brush for an enjoyable (though solitary) evening around a fierce, primitive fire).
So last night I attended an (expensive) benefit event for an organization that works to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault (I'm on the Board). It was fabulous, except we got one of the rare rains we've had this summer. Even though it made transit between the house and the "food tent" difficult, I think people viewed the rain as a blessing -- I know I did! Today we've had rain on and off (mostly off) since about noon, and when I walked the dogs about 5 pm, the garden was definitely looking perky. And that made me feel perky. I love it when my garden is happy! Just now it's raining and I hear gentle thunder. I'll definitely have to wear my rain slicker when I walk the dogs on the bedtime walk in a few minutes. Yay! If it rained this way every day for a week, we'd begin to replenish our shallow water table, though I'll admit that a week of rain would get me a bit depressed. I just want to grape tomatoes to ripen well now, so I can bite into the tasty morsels that I've grown myself.
The best part of this weekend has been time spent with friends -- all kinds of friends. Saturday I went to the birthday party of a woman I don't know well, but who is in the book group I'm a part of. This book group is fairly amazing -- they have been meeting weekly since 1978! Membership has shifted and changed, with some consistent members; we read books of a religious/spiritual/social justice bent. Sue, the woman with the birthday party, is also the sister and sister-in-law of one couple (who are also parishioners) that I love. Sandi has been a good friend, a yoga buddy, and a provider of lunch on Sunday. We share many interests, both artistic and more "fleshly" (including trying to shed some weight!), and she is my senior warden (kind of like the chair of the board of an Episcopal parish). George, her husband, is the parish treasurer. I told Sandi today that he is probably the best man I know (since my youngest brother died 7 years ago), and he always treats me with compassion, kindness, and respect. I'd trust them both with my last dollar and my life, and that's saying a lot. And Sue, the honoree of the party, is also genuinely good people, and a thoughtful, sincere, Christian seeker -- staunch Methodist (our loss as Episcopalians), and "closet adventurer," I suspect. I also went to lunch in Cookeville (30 miles away) and did some shopping at TJ Maxx this afternoon with Sandi. I do love spending time with her. She will be going to Scotland in July to do watercolor with a good friend, and I've discovered the delight of being as excited and happy for her, as though it was my trip! And today as we shopped, I found that I delighted in the bargains that she found, even though I found far fewer things for myself. It's a new experience, to be so sincerely happy for my friends (rather than envious, which I definitely was not!), and I love it.
Tonight was lovely, as well. I had a long, long telephone conversation with my best beloved friend Cheryl. It was absolutely delicious. This is the friend with whom I traveled in Italy. This is the friend who has stuck by me through thick and thin. This is the friend who was (continues to be?) utterly mystified by my transformation from '80s party girl, to dysfunctional wife, to religious seeker, to priest; she's seen everything! She loves to say to my parishioners (to my great consternation), "We knew her before she was good!" Though my family, who I love, has known me longer than Cheryl has, Cheryl has been more intimately connected to all the events of my life since the early 1980s. She was the one who walked me, step by step, through all the ugly stages of grieving after my daughter died. She is still friends, as I am, with my 2nd ex-husband (who is also her partner's best friend). She "gets" why I am still friends with him. She is the most generous spirit and heart that I know. You saw the absolutely stunning gifts that she sent me for my birthday. Here we are on the Amalfi coast together:
Friendship is a funny thing. I have friends at all stages: brand new friends (thank God, new people are coming into my life, and they are a blessing), some who have been friends a little longer (say, 3-5 years), then some even longer (5+ years, but we've just never grown really close), and a few who are the very oldest friends (which doesn't mean they are oldest by age!). Cheryl is one of the latter group. I love her dearly, and thank God every day for her, even if her shoes are consistently prettier than mine.
And now I'm beginning to make some new friends of a different kind. It's great fun. These are blogger friends. I subscribe to their blogs (up to 83 now, and ever growing), read them regularly, and comment on some. It's similar to an email group or community, and a certain feeling of closeness develops over time. I love having "friends" all over the world.
Friendship's a funny thing. It either "works" or "takes," or it doesn't. I'm grateful for it, whatever form it assumes. I'm exhausted this weekend from so much "extrovert-type" contact (remind me to tell you about the new person I met at the birthday party!). But I also feel fed and nourished by the contact with people I love, and whom I know love me. I'm reminded that if I'd remember to 'feed" myself more often with this sort of nourishment, I'd feel less need to "feed" myself with actual food that bears calories and fat.
Thinking about friends and friendship has put me in a good mood. I'm very grateful. How about you?