Sometime last year, new neighbours moved in next door. Slobo and Beba are older than us, with two grown daughters, and so there are no play companions there for our children. However, they are a truly lovely family, and we have been getting to know them bit by bit, as time passes...and as summer weather has us all outdoors a lot. They are putting a lot of work into their home and yard, and it frankly puts our yard maintenance this year to utter shame!
Last week, Beba and one of her daughters knocked on our gate while the kids and I were playing in the backyard, and they came in bearing a huge platter of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies "to welcome the new Canadians home." How lovely was that?? Our younger kids had never eaten cookies before and their faces indicated that it was a heavenly introduction. They refused to call them cookies, and insisted instead that they were "chocolate dabo"/bread - they simply could not believe that bread could taste so good, and they inhaled that platter of cookies with embarrassing speed. It occurred to me that we ought to bake cookies together sometime soon.
Yesterday, while outside enjoying the warmth, these same neighbours casually suggested that if we would like to come for a cup of coffee sometime today, we would be welcome...we were just to knock on their door any time it might work for us. To be honest, after a busy morning and afternoon that precluded us from showing up on their doorstep until almost dinnertime, we felt a little silly knocking on their door at that point, and so I walked over with Seth first (well, I walked over and Seth followed me), intending to offer to delay things until today, or another day. But I didn't even get the words out - they simply invited me to call Geoff and the other two kids over, and to please come in.
Well, I'm certainly glad that we showed up. Not only did we thoroughly enjoy our time there, but their casual invitation belied the effort that they had put into hosting us. After a quick tour of part of the house, to show us some of the remarkable improvements they had made to the place, we were ushered into the kitchen and then out onto the deck. There, we were treated first to beautiful (and delicious) scoops of homemade mango/strawberry ice cream (made in our honour), topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries and cantaloup chunks. It was served in lovely glassware/crystal that I was worried our kids would suddenly drop/hurl to the ground, but it was so pretty to look at that I enjoyed just staring at it before digging in. This might sound silly to say out loud, but after a really hard few weeks, it felt incredible to have someone be so kind and to put so much work into the preparation and presentation of a dish of ice cream - it was somehow luxurious and I felt a little teary as I carefully spooned my first bit up. After the ice cream had mostly been consumed, one of their daughters brought out another dessert (can you imagine Matthew's delight?): spectacular wedges of pound cake, topped with some kind of glaze that was, frankly, divine; this, too had been made in anticipation of our visit. Finally, freshly brewed coffee (and milk or lemonade for the kids), was served in china cups.
We had a great visit, and really enjoyed getting to know them a bit more. Our kids were on fairly good behaviour (despite the mountain of crumbs that accumulated on the deck below their chairs and which our hosts refused to let us clean up), and Matthew asked when we could come back again! I felt like echoing his question. He requested the recipe for the pound cake (I believe his exact words were: "We have to get this recipe from you!"), and was issued a genuine invitation to come over and learn how to make it with Beba sometime soon.
I was sorry to finally have to leave, but eventually the time came. Matthew summed it up exactly when, after the last bite of cake, he said with the fervour only a child could possess: "Please. Don't Move." My sentiments exactly!