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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Givers of gifts

I got an unexpected e-mail last Wednesday.

"How are you doing without your girl?" It was one of Flame-Haired Angel's friends, checking in on me. Could I use some dinner company one night, perhaps?

Somehow, that sweet gesture turned almost immediately into an offer to join her on a jaunt down to a friend's place in the Loire Valley over the weekend. With her boyfriend off on a lads' golf junket, I could fill in as Sarah's extra valise. I couldn't readily reckon a reason to say no. Didn't try too hard, either.

"I'll arrange everything," she said. "Just meet me at Gare de Lyon, Saturday morning." Generosity is Sarah's brand.

Seems it might be a common thread through her friends, too. Our host, Grant, picked us up at Briare station, and zoomed us over canals and past fields of sunflowers en route to the 17th Century coach house that is his life project and true love. For the price of a few bottles, brought in our bags, Grant spoiled us for 36 hours, cooking and laughing and very nearly spooning food into our mouths.

And it wasn't just us. Late into Saturday night, nine adults and eight kids laughed around Grant's groaning tables, set out in the old carriage-way that empties into a walled courtyard where his roses were blooming under the stars. After the dishes were washed and farewells bade to the others, the three of us sat among the flowers, finishing the wine, watching the shooting stars of August, and listening to the baby owls spending their first summer in the tallest of Grant's chimneys, while mama owl swooped now and then, keeping watch.

There are gifts, and then there are gifts. The next day, sitting in the orchard at another table, this one spread with Sunday lunch, I was struck with great confidence that neither Sarah's nor Grant's gestures toward me were exceptional for them. I was in a school of effortless generosity all weekend.

I hope I'll soon have an opportunity to show them how well I paid attention.

Comments on "Givers of gifts"


Blogger The Skiver said ... (9:49 PM) : 

I am, of course, jealous. You had owls to play with...

[I think I have Shakespeare addicted to my crepuscular friends, too]


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