The Daubenmeyers across the road came to mind yesterday while I picked raspberries.

The family with three boys and one married daughter.

The dad who transferred thousands of files from my old Mac to new PC.

The mom who homeschools and works part-time.

Why hadn’t I heard the boys in their swimming pool this summer, pitch breaks in howls of laughter? Had they outgrown such fun in the four years since I carried raspberries to their back door?

So I gave Amanda, the mom, a call. “Sure!” she said, “We’d love raspberries. And you can meet my sister-in-law, Laura. 7:30 is good.”

With my husband visiting his Presque Isle relatives, I prepared a stir fry dinner – leftover lamb kabobs, homegrown bell pepper, onion, and golden crookneck squash sautéed in olive oil.

In the pleasant atmosphere of low humidity and anticipation of good company, I walked the short distance to the Daubenmeyers’ back door. “Anybody home?”

Amanda appeared. “Thanks for the raspberries! Would you like some cherry tomatoes? Our one plant went crazy!” Amanda said.

I set the bag of raspberries on the kitchen counter and followed Amanda outside. There I met their cat, Loppy, lounging under the patio table.

“He was in bad shape when we found him,” Jason, the dad, said.

Loppy lifted his beautiful eyes to us. I fell in love with my thousandth cat. “He looks healthy to me,” I said.

Then Loppy stood on his lean legs. The poor kitty had obviously suffered some rough times.

Amanda led me to the main attraction in their vegetable garden. Indeed, a plant on steroids. We filled a “to go” container in minutes.

“There’s Laura!” Amanda said, looking toward the only house visible.

“I’m glad to meet you at last!” Laura said.

I nodded. “Likewise! I hear you’re one of Amanda’s favorite sisters-in-law.”

In the chill of September’s first nightfall, we three mothers sat around a table Jason had made large enough to seat their extended family.

Several times in the communion of our congenial conversation, I almost excused myself for my final farm chore of the day: closing the henhouse chute. Yet, I decided to linger and listen to Amanda’s wedding and Laura’s grandmother stories.

Amanda shivered. “Would you like some coffee to warm up?”

“Yes!” Laura replied.

“Half a cup should do it,” I said.

Inside, Jason emptied their raspberries into a glass container while Amanda brewed coffee. I understood the meaning of Laura’s expectant smile as Amanda placed coffee toppings on the table.

A shaker of cinnamon, can of sweet whipping cream, and half and half.

Later, I stepped off the Daubenmeyers’ lighted driveway onto our dark, dirt road. Arms outstretched, I blindly wandered into the tree line and fought my way through the brush to my driveway.

Dear Reader, the black sky alight with constellations, I walked downhill, secured the henhouse, and said, “Good-night, girls.”

If I visit the Daubenmeyers after dinner again, I’ll take a flashlight. And a shaker of Ghirardelli cocoa to taste-test with Amanda’s coffee.

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