It is a good night for meatballs. The same meal we have cooked every Wednesday night for thirteen years and counting. Tonight is a beautiful and warm night of vacation week, so more than likely we will have a big crowd joining us—but we never know who. The door has always been open and many hundreds have made their ways through and out of our house with some meatballs and spaghetti sandwiched between. Most people we know from town, work, camp, casual acquaintances, friends and friends of friends from every corner of the globe, and even some true strangers who simply wanted to see if this magical night is for real.
The first comer, Harrison, has already arrived and is playing soccer with Charlie in our field of a backyard. Denise is inside listening to Brad Paisley, singing along to “Whiskey Lullaby” and setting out appetizers and arranging the flowers she bought yesterday. Most everyone who comes brings something: wine, bread, salad, milk, scratch tickets—and sometimes simply a new story to tell.
I make the meatballs—my Tuesday night ritual, and finally, after God knows how many experiments, a formula that seems to work. Meat, parsley, basil, scallions, garlic, onions, breadcrumbs and touches of different spices that stew overnight in a mix of crushed tomatoes, spices, wine and sprinklings of sugar, vinegar, red wine and a stew bone or two. If for some reason there is a huge crowd, we have “emergency meatballs” waiting with jars of Ragu to meet the call and feed the kids.
We have never really set a clock, but it always seems we feed the kids around 6:30 and then the adults around 8:00. Usually, we can fit around our massive farm table; sometimes more will sit at the bar built out of three-hundred-year-old farmhouse beams. On a night like tonight, we might all eat out on the back deck. There is almost always a campfire, and Emma made sure we have the fixings for smores and sticks she whittled sharp.
There is no agenda, no pretense and no expectations. Every night simply happens and evolves.
As will this night.