Grit Blogs > Waking up in Kansas

Tempted by Local Food and Friendship

By K.C. Compton

Tags: local food, neighbors,

Our neighborhood has an unlikely temptress in its midst and I have fallen prey to her charms.

A few nights ago, just as I was unloading my bag of accoutrements from work and settling in to feed the livestock, a loud knock came on my front door. Out here, that kind of urgent knocking can mean anything – "Your dog’s in the middle of the road again," or "Twister headed this way," or "Have you seen a horse meander through here?"

On this night, blessedly, what it meant was my neighbor Kathy sticking her head in the door saying, "I’ve made me a big ol’ pot of goulash. You better come up and have some."

I tried to demur, saying I had just gotten home, I needed to clean up my house, and anyway, I’ve just started this diet – I mean eating plan.

She peered at me with that take-no-excuses look and said, "Every bite of it came out of my garden, except the noodles."

Well, of course I was a goner. I fed the critters, schlepped up the hill and let Kathy feed me. It was, predictably, absolutely delicious, although she forgot to mention the ground beef and the little pieces of bacon – not from her garden, but from another farm a couple of miles away. You couldn’t find more local food: canned tomatoes, frozen corn, onions and garlic from Kathy’s garden; fresh herbs snipped from the containers she’s dragged inside for the winter. It’s almost as if the calories don’t count when the food’s that nourishing and just downright good.

On Saturday night, I was just settling down for a nosh of my own when the phone rang. It was Kathy again.

"I have some ribs cooking right now. Janet and Richard (two other neighbors) are here with me on the patio – in FEBRUARY! You better get yourself up here and help us with this food."

By now, I’m developing a low resistance to Kathy’s "you better’s" and I quickly surrendered, grabbed a bottle of wine and headed up the hill. What was I going to do anyway? Sit and talk to the dogs while I ate a cheese sandwich?

So we sat and we ate and had a couple of glasses of red. And they talked about the neighborhood – the time another neighbor’s holsteins got out and ate every single plant in Janet’s new landscaping; how the snapping turtles keep eating the ducklings; the boys down the road who drive their trucks like NASCAR competitors every time they leave the house.

Once again I’m struck by how much my social life has picked up since I’ve moved out here in the boonies. I like getting to know my neighbors, even though I don’t know how many of Kathy’s "you better’s" my waistline can take.