The serving crew has everything under control, keeping the trays and urns filled as quickly as villagers deplete them. When the last flat of eggs and potatoes is scooped off the grill, the last vat of oatmeal poured into the serving crock, Janine, Ralph, the twins and I fill our plates and relax at Cook’s Table.
Strains of Vivaldi stream almost too quietly from Cheyenne’s cello. She loves playing in the early morning. Says her fingers are most limber then. I catch her eye and wink.
My heart blooms in my chest, and I feel anew the wonder of her in my life. Seventeen years. Serene pleasure.
At table, we don’t say much the first few minutes. I suspect the others are as hungry as I. We nearly disgrace ourselves slurping and gorging.
My oatmeal is delicious–not too soft, and with just enough texture to require a little chewing. Fully cooked, the freshly milled oats are fat and substantial. The bananas and home-dried raisins I’ve added shoot little bursts of flavor across my tongue with each bite.
Finishing quickly, Janine rolls her chair away from the table, eyes twinkling.
“I’ve a little surprise for later today,” she says to me. And sails away before I can empty my mouth and speak.
“What?” I say, mushily, to the twins, who are giggling.
“We’ll never tell!” in unison.
“I haven’t a clue,” he says, reaching for another apricot muffin. “She didn’t say anything to me.”
Finished with breakfast and the day’s chores, Ralph, the twins and I head out the door. On the way, I stop and give a peck on the cheek to Cheyenne.
I’m on my way to my gardens. Ralph is off to prepare for his morning class, and the twins to the village school. Later, they will tutor younger children.
Today Ralph is working with the teens, including the twins, helping them discover how energy flows in, around, between, and among humans, other animals, plants, and “inanimate” objects.
Like me, he prefers a good deal of solitude, which he uses for private meditation and energy practice.
The only villager who routinely rises earlier than I, Ralph is up at 4:00 every morning to meditate and practice Qi Gong in the cool dark hours. A master of the chi arts, he teaches the rest of us.
By 2 pm, school out, he will likely be far down the stream, lying on his belly, watching the new frogs. Or perhaps he’ll hike up the western scarp and sit among the rocks, waiting for a cougar or coyote to befriend him.