It started with a neighborly gift of blueberry jam, still warm from the stove. While headed to my mother's on my bike, I grabbed one of the three pints of jam cooked up from this year's blueberry crop and stopped off at Meserve's home next door to offer up something in response to their gift of fresh homegrown cucumbers last month.
Stan and Geneva were downstairs in the basement working on a project. Stan said he needed to keep on working, and Geneva invited me upstairs to visit with her at their kitchen table for a few minutes. We talked about the busy summer, the unbearable heat and about Club. As I was leaving, Geneva reminded me one more time to come to Club on Tuesday as a guest.
"Show up about 11," she said. "It's usually over by 2."
"Can I bring anything?" I asked.
"No, you're a guest," she insisted.
So, I hopped on my bike and headed on to Mother's, once again thinking about what a wonderful adventure back to my long-lost rural ways that we had begun with our move to Selle this past summer. As I approached Filipowski's barn, a young man who looked like Mike F. walked onto the road and headed north.
Two cars were parked at the barn. I figured that the Filipowskis must have some fall cow activities going on and that the whole family was helping. Sure enough, it was Mike home from college for the weekend. As I passed by, we chatted briefly about his current goal of earning his Master's Degree in English. Then, I pedaled on with a big smile on my face and no worries of cars running me over. This life is so good, I thought.
Life continued to be good after my first visit to the Selle Extension Club at Geneva's house yesterday. I took my camera and walked to the meeting. And, as I approached Meserve's home where several cars filled the driveway, my longtime friend Nita Schoonover was walking toward the house. I snapped her picture as she approached me, flanked by a huge birch tree with its stunning golden leaves.
As we walked inside, Stan and Geneva greeted us. The house was full of chatter and activity as one club member scurried around the kitchen, helping Geneva put the final touches on a potluck luncheon display. Nita, Stan and I visited for a few moments.
"His mother used to read the Bible and then show us on the map places where her son was serving during World War II," Nita told me. Stan's mother had taught at the neighborhood elementary schools for decades. Both Stan and Nita had been her students. I soon learned from Stan that Mrs. Meserve had another son who flew 75 bombing missions during WWII. He later came home from the war, went to college on the GI bill and became an educator who served many small North Idaho school districts as their superintendent.
After a few tales of the good ol' days of attending Selle Elementary School, Nita and I left Stan and joined the ladies in the living room. There were Ina Jacobson, Carol Mundell, Marjorie Pratt, Marjorie Barnes, and Wilma Erickson (who never changes). I also met several women for the first time. All are Selle transplants with fascinating stories. Paul Rechnitzer and his wife Patti were there for Paul's talk on railroads in Bonner County.
As Geneva continued to get things ready in the kitchen, the short meeting began. Isabel, who's the sunshine lady for the group, presided because all the other officers were gone for various reasons. I learned that the group supports the Pregnancy Crisis Center and the newly established Grace Haven for homeless women. They also provide a nice Christmas package for a family in need every year.
The Club has been going since the 1930s. It's a part of the old home demonstration network of community clubs which once provided homemakers with very-much-needed survival skills for living the once-daunting rural life.
During our luncheon of quiche, veggies, and tasty desserts at Geneva's table, I learned that Wilma has been attending since the '40s, and Geneva, since she was first married to Stan---57 years ago. Talk about feeling like a newbie! After observing the simplicity and the heartfelt generous goals of the group, I've decided to join. The luncheon with all its gabbing and historical tidbits wasn't bad either. In fact, those ladies know how to cook and talk.
I'm not a big joiner, but this group represents such a pleasant and nostalgic conduit to my rural roots, that I can't help feeling like I've truly found my way home. Life is good.