Sowbug and Dandelion were working on the front porch of the Side House when they saw a white minivan slowly making its way down the drive. Two folks got out, a woman with dark hair and an intense expression and a man with close cropped brown hair, a close cropped brown beard, and a luminescent pearl earring.
“Hi,” the woman yelled to them. “We’re Beechpest and Unicorn. We’re here to check out the place.”
“Let me get Luna,” Dandelion yelled back. Two minutes later Dandelion returned with Luna and Sal and Dan.
“Hey, Beechpest,” Sal said. “This is Luna.” She looked a little further. “Oh, hey, Unicorn. You came too. This is great. Nancy and Strange Brew are around some place and they’ll both be happy to see you.” She paused again and then said, “Oh, yeah, Unicorn, this is Luna and Dan.”
“Hey,” said Unicorn, “Pleased to meet both of you.”
Sal hugged Beechpest and Unicorn. Then Dan hugged Beechpest and Unicorn. Then Luna hugged Beechpest and Unicorn. Then they all went on a tour of the farm.
“This is Groovy House,” Sal said. “Sowbug and Dandelion helped build it. They weren’t part of the commune then, but they liked the place so much that they’ve come and joined us.”
“How many people are living here now?” asked Beechpest.
“We’ve got nineteen at the moment,” said Dan. “That includes four BBAAers, but doesn’t include friends and neighbors and lawyers who stop by and even stay here occasionally.”
“How new is this building?” Unicorn asked.
“Three months old,” said Sal. “The original building burned down.”
“Yeah. We know how that is,” Beechpest said sadly.
“These are the two older buildings that were on the property when I bought it,” Luna said. “We call them Side House and Back House.”
“Wait,” Beechpest said. “You bought the place? Who owns it now?”
“I guess I do,” Luna said. “Is that a problem?”
“Maybe,” Beechpest said.
After walking through the buildings, the tour went to the EcoGreenHouse and then out into the fields.
“Here’s where we grow all our vegetables,” Sal said. “The stuff we sell and the stuff we eat.”
“Oh look,” Unicorn said. “You have chickens and goats and a little cow.”
“Yes,” said Luna. “We guess we do.”
“The chickens have just started laying eggs, so sometimes we have eggs for breakfast,” said Dan. “We don’t sell eggs at this point.”
“And the goats and cow are too young to give milk,” Sal added.
“And back there is where the BBAAers are tenting,” Luna said. “Sowbug and Dandelion are going to help Dan and Sal build a new house for people to stay in soon.”
“Is that the place?” Beechpest asked.
“That’s the place,” Sal said.
“Okay,” Beechpest said. “Let’s go somewhere and talk.”
“So my first question is,” Beechpest said. “How does it work with you,” she pointed to Luna, “owning the house?”
“Well,” Luna said, “we haven’t really talked about it. We’ve been too busy with farming and building the commune to worry about ownership.”
“I can see that,” Beechpest said. “But I think this is one of those things that could be a problem later. It’s not really equal opportunity if you own the place. It gives you a real advantage over everyone else.”
“Will this stop us from being a Commune Worth Talking With?” asked Sal.
“No, not really,” Beechpest said. “But it would probably keep you from being a full fledged member of the CEOC.”
“How long does it take a commune to become a full member of the CEOC?” Dan asked.
“At least a couple of years,” Beechpest replied.
“Good,” Dan said. “Hopefully in a couple of years we’ll have this tricky ownership issue all figured out.”
“Do you have a maximum size that you would like to see the commune become?” Beechpest asked.
“Oops,” said Luna. “That’s another thing we haven’t talked about.”
“I’d say we want to be at least twenty folks,” said Sal. “And maybe as many as forty. I can’t imagine we’d want to have much more than that.”
“I don’t know,” Luna said. “I’ve thought about having as many as a couple of hundred folks here sometimes.”
“What?” said Sal.
“As she said,” Dan said. “We haven’t talked about it.”
“Do you have any plans in case something happened to anyone?” Beechpest asked.
“What do you mean ‘something happened’?” Dan asked.
“You know, someone gets sick or there’s an accident.”
“Are you talking about insurance?” asked Sal.
“Yeah. That’s one possibility.”
“No,” said Luna. “We don’t.”
“I think our plan is for no one to get sick,” Dan clarified.
“Doesn’t the CEOC offer insurance?” asked Sal.
“We have our own plan, called KIWI,” said Beechpest. “But you have to be a full member of the CEOC to be part of it. Unfortunately, we don’t offer it to Communes Worth Talking With.”
“What does KIWI stand for?” asked Dan.
“Keep Invigorated Wellness Insurance,” said Beechpest. “It’s also a tasty fruit.”
“We’re going to have to keep working on this one, too,” Luna said. “Do you have more questions?”
“Probably,” Beechpest said. “But we’ve got to get going. I promised to take Unicorn to see the Jen and Berry’s Sorbet Factory and it’s only open for a few more hours. Anyway, I’ve seen enough to know that you qualify as a Commune Worth Talking With.”
“Oh, that’s great!” said Luna.
“Wait,” said Unicorn. “One more thing. Is there someplace around here to buy maple syrup?”