I woke up in a dark mood this morning for no particular reason. In fact, I have every reason in the world to be joyful and grateful. But sometimes the neurotransmitters don’t get the memo.
So, before noon the universe—or “grace” as I prefer to call it—had given me a nudge in the form of three amazing examples of human compassion, intelligence, and creativity, which turned my heart to butter and my soul to gratitude.
I’ll share two now, but I’m saving the third for my Christmas post. You won’t want to miss it!
- This newsletter. New Communitas will interest only a sliver of readers (It’s about “finding balance in the second half of life”), but included here are essays from some of the most thoughtful, intelligent women I know. Yes, their stuff is often better than the literati who suck up oxygen on the bestseller lists.*
*Here’s a news flash: Publishing is an insular, quirky business. You have to know someone, or be the media darling du jour, or be struck by a lightening bolt of pure, dumb luck to be successful in the traditional world of print publishing. (This may be partly sour grapes, but I’ve been a professional writer—that means for money—for about three decades now. I’ve had some close encounters with the big boys, but I was just too clueless to know how to keep the party going.)
Work like New Communitas is why I love the Internet. It spews out tons of crap, but it also allows these few bright stars to blaze against the darkness instead of drowning in the slush pile on some overworked editor’s desk.
2. This story about an amazing encounter between a German and an American fighter pilot during WWII. The author spent years researching this book about an incredible act of compassion (or treason, depending on your perspective) in the midst of this brutal war and the nearly miraculous meeting of the two men 40 years later.
The tissues are in the bathroom.
As I said, I’m saving the best for Christmas, so check back then. You’ll want to share.
Besides attending a ceilidh, the second traditional thing to do on Prince Edward Island is to go to a lobster supper. There are many permutations of lobster suppers on the island, depending on your taste, discrimination, and chump change, but I went to St. Anne’s.
Now, right from the start, I have to confess that my name is Kate, and I am a Church Lady. I’ve done it all—mainlined serving at funeral dinners; snorted pancake breakfasts; and steamed altar cloths until the house smelled like scorched linen. So when I heard about St. Anne’s Church and its old-timey lobster supper, I had visions of all the little church ladies baking their crisps and cakes, wiping their hands on floury aprons, glasses sliding down their nose.
I had to go there.
Julia was less enthralled. “Mom, do you really think old ladies make all that stuff? It’s probably just a restaurant in a church.”
We were both right. The lobster supper began some 45 years ago when Fr. Denis Gallant came up with the idea to help pay off the church mortgage. I’m sure he charmed an army of church ladies into baking pies and their husbands into boiling lobster.
As it became successful, it outgrew the ladies and was taken over by an organization more eager to turn a trick. It’s still held at the church, which by now is looking a little dated and in need of the cut of proceeds that I assume it gets.
Lobster, however, is not the most economical of meals, even in a church. By now I was feeling the pinch of longterm travel in a place where the exchange rate isn’t in thrall to the almighty $US. Instead of the 5-course, whole-lobster adult portion, Julia and I opted for the 3-course, half-lobster child’s size for $21 apiece.
Now folks, this is where traveling with a fetching young woman comes in extremely handy. Jeremy was our waiter. He sized us up.
“I’ll take care of you,” he said.
First came a heaping plate of mussels. And since Julia doesn’t like mussels, I ate all hers. Then came a lovely, full-bodied chowder. Then salads. By now it was apparent that we were going beyond 3-course child’s portions.
Then Jeremy tied on the aprons and re-arranged the cutlery, which was beginning to look like a tray of dentist tools. I was getting nervous about tackling the crustacean.
“Don’t worry,” said our hero, “I’ll help you.”
The lobster was delicious and the side of turnips was the best I’ve ever had—and I don’t like turnips.
Then, Jeremy brought the rhubarb crisp. Tart, sweet, and crispy. I know the church ladies had a hand in this. You can’t tell me otherwise.
There was live music—a local girl on a keyboard sang a mélange of original music. By now the warmth of Jeremy and good food and general churchiness cast everything in a rosy glow. So I don’t know if the music was good, but it was surely part of the spell.
Jeremy never once acted anything but a proper gentleman, but by the time we were preparing to stagger out after our “child-size” meal, Julia had his phone number and a vague promise of a job on the island.
I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to leave.