Debra and I planned a visit at my place including her husband, Martin, and their two granddaughters.

She emailed, “Don’t worry about food. We’ll bring it.”

As Debra had visited me on prior summers with her older granddaughter, I was excited to see how the girl had grown. Furthermore, I would at last meet her younger granddaughter. While Debra painted darling grand-girl reports, I pondered how to playfully engage the two sisters.

So, the morning of their visit, I drove Betsy from Mel’s shed in the back lowlands, up the hill and into the garage. There I scrubbed away garden dirt and detritus from her floorboard, dashboard, and seats.

Then I retrieved a bright pink piece of paper, black Sharpie, and packing tape. I wrote a welcoming sign, taped it on the golf cart, and declared, “Betsy, we’re taking the day off from yardwork today for some fun!”

Lest you think I’m losing my marbles, please consider life without little children. I mean giggling voices that say the funniest and most profound things, perfectly timed and unedited. You know, the “out of the mouth of babes” moments that become legendary within families.

After a brief tour inside my house, led by two inquisitive New York City children, we settled around my kitchen table for iced tea and Debra’s delicious gluten-free scones with jam. Meanwhile, the girls consumed their lunch provided in advance by their mother.

“Now can we go for a ride on Betsy?” asked the girls.

Posthaste, we five found our places. I, the driver, took the wheel and commenced my roller-coaster ride and tour. Laughter and “Faster! Faster!” came from the sisters, whose voices were indistinguishable.

“These are redbud trees,” I said as we whizzed through the valley. “These are Dawn Redwood trees and grow into giants,” I said at a hilltop.

I stopped by Happy, my repurposed camper.

“What’s in there?” asked the older sister.

“Well, let’s see!” I said, and opened the door.

Debra helped the girls into the little, one-room space with a bed, curtains on the windows, a long curtain from ceiling to floor, and dry sink.

The girls stood by the long curtain. “What’s in there?”

“A compost potty,” I replied.

The girls climbed upon the twin bed’s faded comforter, an orphan left by my eldest daughter and put to good use. “I like this,” the older sister said.

“Sometimes, I take naps there,” I said.

Before our second Betsy ride, we all strolled the gardens, for Debra and Martin also grow gardens, and know the names of their flowers, shrubs and trees.

“Debra, why don’t you and Iris pose for a photo on the steps between the lavender shrubs?” Martin said.

There, he snapped photos that captured the long-term friendship of two women on a most remarkable prelude to summer.

Dear Reader, today, blooming Munstead stems nod to me as bumble bees and butterflies light upon their blooms to drink nectar, and fly away. I hear the voices of Debra and Martin’s sweet grandchildren.

“Faster! Faster!”

Contact Iris at