Ken looked wistfully out the window at the snowy landscape. To his surprise, a chartreuse Saab had pulled up in the drive and an elderly woman was getting out.
He rushed out the door to help her across the slippery walk.
“Hi,” he said to her. “Who are you here to visit?”
She looked right back at him. “I’m not here to visit anyone. I’m here to join the commune.”
Ken stopped right there at the doorway. He looked at her, looked at their breath coming out in frosty puffs, and helped her inside.
Once Ken had the door shut, he asked, “You want to join the commune?” His tone was skeptical to say the least.
“You bet,” the woman said. “Back when I was thirty-three, let me see, that was in nineteen-sixty-six. Anyway, there were suddenly all these communes everywhere. I really wanted to join one but I had a husband and two kids and a job and I couldn’t. I figured when the kids grew up, I could join a commune then.”
“But…” Ken started.
The woman paid no attention. “Then when my kids grew up and my husband left, I started looking for communes. Unfortunately, that’s when my kids started having kids and needed all this help and I was grandma, and there was no time to join a commune.”
“But…” Ken said again.
“But now I’m eighty-two years old,” she continued. “And my kids are grandparents and no one ever thinks of me except at the holidays when they check the obituaries to see if they need to send me cards and I was in the bookstore and saw this book called ‘The New Commune Cookbook’ and it said there was a commune around here and I thought I’d come over here and join up.”
“But…” Ken said, but this time it was Nancy who interrupted him. She had just come in and heard the last part of the monologue.
“Wait,” she said to Ken. Nancy turned to the woman. “Do you cook?”
“I’ve been cooking for fifty years. I can cook anything.”
“Can you bake?” Nancy asked.
“Do Canadians like hockey? Is the pope a Catholic? Do bears…”
“Got it,” Nancy interrupted.
Dan was passing by with Luna. “I don’t like hockey,” he said softly to her.
“I won’t tell anyone,” Luna told him. “Hopefully if they don’t find out, they won’t take away your citizenship.”
Nancy walked the woman into the kitchen. “Are you willing to try to bake this bread?” she asked pointing to a recipe in the cookbook. “I’ll get you whatever you need.”
“Let me at it,” the woman said.
The bread looked a little bit odd when it came out of the oven but Nancy was quite surprised when she tried a slice.
“Whoa,” said Nancy. “This is tastes better than it does when I make it, and I make it pretty darned good.”
“I thought adding mustard and lemongrass would give it a little zow…” said the woman. “I like to experiment while I cook.”
“So, you really want to live here?”
“Absolutely. Like right now. That’s exactly why I came.”
“Well, you’re in,” Nancy said. “What’s your name?”
“Zelda,” said Zelda. “Where can I put my stuff?”
“We’ve got one room left in Harmony House. I guess it’s yours.”
They went out to the Saab and pulled out several suitcases. Ken helped and with three of them struggling, they were able to carry everything in one load. Fortunately the walk was well shoveled and they had no trouble getting the stuff out to Harmony House.
“Like I said, I came here to join you,” Zelda said as they were walking. “I just knew I had to be here. I really wanted to live in a commune and your place was the only place for miles. I didn’t have a plan B to fall back on.”
In Harmony House they passed Darren reading in the living room, sitting with his leg up wrapped in a big cast.
He waved at them.
“What happened to him?” Zelda asked.
“That was our last baker,” Ken said. “He had a little accident.”
“Pay attention to where you walk on the kitchen floor,” Nancy said. “And don’t move around too fast.”
“I’ll remember that,” Zelda said.