In The Kitchen

Several twenty-and-thirty-somethings were scattered about the big cozy kitchen at Benden Farm. Things were pretty chill. A bottle of merlot was half full on the large round table along with several beers – homebrewed by the look of the motley collection of bottles. There was evidence that maybe a pipe of something or other had been passed around too. Manu Chau was playing from an iPod plugged into the big speakers. A pot of black bean soup still sat on the back burner, but the dishes from supper were back on their shelves. The big bag of Doritos was almost down to crumbs.

Caliente Goodwin-Brown nursed six-month old Menolly in the rocking chair, a cup of rose hips and hawthorn tea on a side table that was also littered with seed catalogs, back issues of Hot Mama magazine and battered, dog-eared copies of The Money-Wrench Gang and The River Why.

Two young men, dramatic opposites of each other, were carving. The shavings fell on the floor, gifting them all with a lovely cedar aroma. A skinny six foot three, Arlo Rosen had a chocolate hue with head shaved and shiny, while Gabe was short with pale yellow curly hair and a scraggly beard, framed with geeky black glasses. Arlo, the more accomplished carver, was working on an intricate talking stick, but Gabe was catching on fast in his own attempts. Fewer of his efforts were being consigned to the woodstove.

Rhea, Carlos and Salal were chopping cabbage from the garden to fill a big crock where it would ferment into kimchi. They’d be making sauerkraut with the next picking.

Tomorrow was Harvest Fest Day. “Did you find the coolers for the sausage, Carlos Flores?” asked Caliente.

“Yup, Cali, they were right where you thought they were. I like that shelf in the barn for them,” answered her husband. “It makes sense to keep them with the other market booth stuff. I’m glad we don’t have to set up a booth tomorrow though. It will be nice to share one with Aaron and Betsy. They’ll have their pumpkins to sell.”

“Betsy canned pickles and relish at the Community Kitchen last week. Yay! We have a certified kitchen at the Nekelew Community Center now. I’ll bet the next year sees all kinds of new products for sale at the markets.”

“Thanks to your dad Charley and the Growers Guild for getting that organized,” said Arlo.

“That’s so cool about Michael Di’Angeli coming home to run the Locus program. He and his boyfriend are going to need a place to live.”

“What’s his name? I keep forgetting.”

“Uri – short for Uriel.”

“Is he as angelic as he sounds?”

“Fuck yeah,” gushed Rhea only half teasingly. “He’s pretty dishy. Too bad he’s taken. I like it better when new folks come to town single.”

“Not that he’d go for you, girlfriend.”

“Ya’ never know,” Rhea laughed, her long dark hair swinging as she picked up the next cabbage to chop. “Uri seems like a cool guy. He’s does some sort of energy medicine and has a dream of setting up at the regular clinic. I told him there’s a new MD there who is rumored to be open to alternative modalities and might want to add them to the clinic repertoire.”

“That would be a kickass step forward,” said Arlo.

“Molly is looking for someone to rent her granny flat,” offered Caliente. “Though it’s only a studio apartment so they might want a bigger space, but they could start there…. Dude! Don’t the Jensen’s have their little land trust house for sale? The guys could probably afford that. They should be if Michael wants to walk his talk about local sustainability.” She’d obviously inherited her parents’ networking abilities. Or as both Ursula and Charley often teased her: “We trained you well from the get-go.”

Caliente turned to Salal. “Speaking of coming back. When are you going to give up your wandering and move back home?”

“Leave your brother alone, Cali. Not everyone wants to settle in a little burg like this,” said her husband diplomatically.

“But he always says he’d be tempted to come back here permanently if enough of the flock land at the same time. Seems like we might be getting a critical mass of us birds.”

Salal looked at his twin sister and then at the tall thin Asian woman across from him sipping her tea. “Have you been talking with Mom and Dad? Are they complaining again?”

“No they’ve been very quiet on the subject ever since you blew up at them a few years ago. Menolly has assuaged their granny-lust for the moment.” Cali dropped a kiss on her baby’s head. “I just miss you is all.”

“Naw. Dude. We don’t miss him. We just miss his drumming,” Gabe teased. “Is Uri a drummer by any chance?”

“Word is he plays the didgeridoo.”

“Awesome. We could use a decent didge player,“ observed Rhea, hoping the newcomer might fit in with their ecstatic dance contingent or at least join in on the musical healing stuff some of them were playing around with.

Caliente was thinking that this new woman with Salal seemed promising, but then they all did. She’d be good for their motley gene pool. The trick was for him to find someone who actually liked the place. That’s how it had worked for her and Carlos. They’d both been at Evergreen College in Washington and had come down here together, bringing Gabe along too. Gabe had fallen in love with Fern, a local high school classmate of them all and when that relationship broke up he’d moved in at Benden Farm and had now-five year old Anise half the week. Fern had recently taken up with Cali’s older brother Jay (speaking of birds landing). Small town. She wished Salal wanted to be part of it, but his sweeties had wanderlust as bad as he did. “At least you’ll be able to catch up with all sorts of people at the Harvest Fest before you take off again,” Caliente said brightly and out loud.

Salal turned to Gabe, “How are things at ReBound these days?”

“ Stellar. A zoo half the time, but okay really. The recycle material markets have tanked again but we’ll weather it. Come up on Sunday if you’re still here. We hung the big venetian blind birds from last year’s New Years parade from the ceiling. They look great.”

“Do you want to keep working there?”

“I love it.… I…. I even kinda wish Molly would give me more responsibility. I think I’m ready for it. I know most of the operations and have some good ideas about the future. I can actually see it as a long term thing.”

“You should talk to her about it.”

“I will. I’m just trying to get up my nerve.”

“I knew ReBound would be a good fit for you, Gabe,“ said Caliente. “You’re so organized and can see the whole picture. You love giving things new life by getting them into the right people’s hands. Like you do, Salal.”

Salal grinned at his twin enigmatically. “Anybody want to do dawn patrol tomorrow morning?”

“The wind is shifting so it looks like the surf will be epic at the Mountain,” said Rhea. “I’m down.”

“Me too,” said Carlos, “We’ll be back before Owen comes to pick us up for the Harvest Fest.”