It was a cold, snowy morning in early February when a black pickup truck pulled in front of the main house. Three folks got out and walked to the door.
Ken answered it, took one look at the fifty-something man standing there in a buckskin jacket, blue jeans, and shiny black shoes, and said, "Wait a minute."
Marge was nearby, fortunately, and came to the door. "Can we help you?" she asked.
"Can we come in?"
Marge looked at the three of them and decided they were probably harmless and realised that it didn't make sense to have a conversation with the door wide open and all the heat leaving the house. "Yeah, come on in."
The older man was followed by a young woman and a young man, both wearing peacoats, jeans, and boots. Ken wondered if they were a family.
"We heard this was a commune," the first man said. "We were wondering if you could use folks."
"Are you a family?" Marge asked. "Or friends?"
"I'm Edgar," the man said. "I was driving up here and picked up these two and they told me about this commune."
"We just came from the Rainbow Woman Gathering Festival," the younger man said.
"My name's Grace," the woman said. "Someone at the festival had been at a Faerie Gathering where he heard about your commune. I thought it sounded great."
"Okay, you're Edgar and Grace," said Marge. "And your name?"
"Oh, yeah," said the second man. "I'm Will."
"Can any of you farm? Are you good at cooking or cleaning? How about baking?"
"I can bake like nobody's business," said Will.
"Can you make cupcakes?"
"I make awesome cupcakes."
"Okay," said Marge. "We could use you."
"I grew up on a farm," Edgar said. "I certainly know my way around growing things."
"And I can cook and clean if you need me to," said Grace.
"Well, we'll need to talk with everyone else," Marge said, "but I have a feeling that you folks won't have trouble fitting in."
Within a few days, Edgar, Grace, and Will were just another part of the community.
Will's cupcakes, as he said, were very, very good, and Darren was glad to turn cupcake baking over to him, and to simply assist Will and Nancy with all the baking. Business at the bake stand was doing very well and it kept the three of them, and Barbara as working at the stand, very busy. Cat was now very much a part of the produce stand with Sal and Dan, and Marge and Ken welcomed Grace as part of the team keeping the place in order.
And Edgar joined Luna, Viv, and Chuck in the greenhouses and hoop houses and in preparing the fields for the spring. He knew a lot about growing things but he did seem a bit slow in doing stuff, as if he hadn't done farming for while.
"What did you do before you came here?" asked Viv.
"Oh," said Edgar, "this and that."
She was about to ask more when Peter came by looking for Luna. He was with two other men, one with long hair and a pink open necked dress shirt and the other with a crew-cut and a white shirt and a thin black and silver striped tie.
"This is Fred and George," he said to Luna. "Fred" and he gestured to the fellow with the long-hair "is an expert on corporate law and George" waving at the man with the crew-cut beside him "specializes in alternative culture and the law. They're both top flight attorneys and both committed to the freedom of the syrup growers."
"Who's the woman with the blue hair?" George asked. "We passed her on the way in."
"Her name is Barbara," Luna said. "Why?"
"She looks familiar for some reason, but I can't place her."
"We want to look at your books," Peter said, "and get a chance to study your operation in detail. I aim to make sure that everything you do is impeccable and irreproachable."
"I appreciate this more than I can say," Luna said. "We've had no problems since the new year but I can't help feeling uneasy. Maybe because it's been too quiet. I feel like I keep waiting for the other shoe."
"All I can promise is that she won't have any legal avenue to fault you. Unfortunately, we can't protect you from everything."
"Yeah," said George. "I've been studying some of the conservative organizations lately, and the way that they attack alternative institutions. They can be brutal."
"And I've also dealt with Ms Reagon, on several occasions," Fred said. "I can tell you that she plays very nasty. I can only hope we can figure whatever she's planning and stop it."
"I really do hope you can," Luna said. "She has me scared, honestly."
"Hey," Chuck said. "You're all looking on the negative side of things here. Maybe there won't be any more problems here. You've got to think positive."
"Oh," said Viv, "We're thinking positive alright. For example, I'm positive that woman is up to something. In fact, I'm positive there will be more problems coming sometime soon."