Life in Paradise... For the past three days, every afternoon we've had people showing up at our door with complete evening meals – hot, tasty food ready to eat. Two of these times the people were complete strangers to us. Why is this happening? That's a bit of a story...
It started in our driveway last Thursday afternoon, as Debbie and I walked out to her truck to drive up to Angie's (in Logan) for dinner. We hadn't been there for a couple weeks, and we both felt like some comfort food. Our driveway still had patches of ice, but the afternoon was warm and it was melting. Wet ice, as you may know, is very slippery. Then add to that the fact that Debbie was wearing leather-soled cowboy boots. They might as well have been Teflon-coated. You can probably guess what happened next: her slippery feet slipped on the slimy ice, and down she went.
After an uncomfortable night, we went to see a doctor on Friday morning. The verdict: a “strained” back and knee. A “strain” is less severe than a “sprain”, but more than just “pulled”. I'm not sure how they come up with this terminology, but the doctor made it clear this was nothing to worry about, that she'd recover completely and quickly, and she just needed some rest, to wear a knee brace for a while, and a little pharmacological assistance (muscle relaxant and analgesic). Home we went.
Fast forward to Saturday morning, when our friend and neighbor Tim D. came over to visit. I was out in the barn working on the wiring, and he went in to chat with Debbie. When she came hobbling slowly to the door, wearing the brace, he knew something was up. He got all the details when talking with her.
I've learned enough about living in an LDS (Mormon) community by now that I should have known what was going to happen next, but it got me by surprise anyway. Tim is a former bishop, a devout Mormon, and upon learning about Debbie's injury (however minor!) he sprang into action as though she was now a quadriplegic. A few hours after he left, Alan and Nikki L. (another set of friends and neighbors) showed up to visit with Debbie. They were there both to comfort her and to interrogate her about our dining preferences. Later that afternoon, they showed up with a ready-to-eat meal, which of course we disposed of very quickly. This is despite our protestations that all this was entirely unnecessary, as (a) I can cook, and (b) Debbie wasn't bedridden, just slowed down. They insisted anyway, Alan telling me, basically, to “shut up and embrace it”, because it was going to happen no matter what we said.
Sunday and Monday afternoon, women who were part of the local LDS ward's Relief Society showed up with another installment. Sunday's meal was particularly good: roast beef with potatoes, carrots, a salad, and dessert, all ready to eat.
Yesterday morning, Michelle H. (the wonderful woman who does the heavy cleaning in our house every couple of weeks) came over as planned – but she was all prepared to do a lot more (I think Debbie's condition has been wildly exaggerated in the rumor mill) to help out. She was ready to do the cooking (note the assumption that the male animal of the household can't prepare food!), take care of the animals, etc. We didn't actually need any of that help, but it was comforting to know that if we did need it, it would be readily available.
The local Mormons are enjoying our discomfiture with all this, I think :) But I have to say that we're enjoying the food and the opportunity to meet some members of our community who are new to us.
Monday morning I ran down to the Post Office to pick up our mail. When I walked in the door, the postmaster asked me how Debbie was doing. His assistant wanted to know if we were happy with the meals. They both knew all the details of Debbie's fall, which is typical of any small community, I suspect – but after spending so much time in California, it's sure not something I'm used to. Everyone is connected here, somehow (including, of course, through the LDS church that the majority of our community are members of). Brent, our postmaster, is the brother of the woman who runs the local Relief Society. Linda, his assistant, is actually a neighbor of ours (and a water rights expert currently working on getting our well permit). Both are LDS.
Out in the Post Office lobby, where the P.O. boxes are, another woman greeted me with good wishes for Debbie. I had no idea who this woman was, and it must have showed in my face, so she explained that her husband pointed me out as they drove into the Post Office (the lobby has big windows). He knows me because we'd previously chatted in the Post Office lobby, and he remembered where I lived – and had heard in church that Debbie (whom he'd never met) had fallen. So when his wife ran in to pick up their mail, she was full of concern and good wishes – even though she'd never met (or heard of) either of us before!
We love living here. After forty-plus years in California, land of adjacent strangers, to live in a community that actually is a community is jarring in some ways, but comforting in so many more...