Just a few weeks after we had moved into our house in Dundee, Mark and I were walking to the mailbox at the end of our street with our dogs Rammus and Henry in tow, marvelling at the beauty that surrounded us and feeling incredibly grateful. The gravel road crunched noisily under our feet as we walked, but through the noise we could vaguely hear someone yelling “Hello! Hello!” When we turned around, we saw a very pregnant young woman running toward us (or trying to anyway) and waving. We, of course, walked toward her to see if something was wrong and if she needed help...but when we met up, all she said was “Hi! I’m Savannah! I’m your neighbor!” That moment was the beginning of one of the best parts of living in Dundee. Savannah and her family have become our family, her children brightening up so many of our days and her presence enriching my life in so many ways. We’ve only been here for a year and a half, but already we have memories of BBQ’s, neighborhood potlucks, pre-Christmas dinners, harvest parties, wreath-making, super-hero and pony birthday parties, book-reading, weekly chats, wine-tasting, and, for the second time, just a few days ago, applesauce making.
Last Friday, Savannah hosted her second annual “applesauce sesh,” where Savannah, Lanette (another wonderful neighbor) and I bring all of the apples we have gathered from our yards and elsewhere (which is a lot), and then we spend a good part of the day sitting around Savannah’s kitchen counter, peeling apples, cutting them up them and throwing them in a big bowl (with the help of a few of her kiddos). Savannah then takes all of those apples pieces, works some kind of crazy applesauce magic, throws it in jars, processes it, feeds us lunch, and then send us home with jars and jars of applesauce and full hearts. This might just be my new favorite Fall tradition.
The more I thought about our our applesauce sesh, however, the more I realized that it is the perfect metaphor to describe the kind of person Savannah is. For one thing, generally speaking, when you make applesauce, you use all kinds of apples -- red, green, yellow -- and you aren’t always using the best apples you have. Certainly some of them are good apples, but you also use some of the bad ones -- the apples with bruises, blemishes, or even wormholes. But then once you peel the apple, you can find the good parts and throw that into the bowl, add a little spice, a little patience, and a little love and you are left with something so good and nourishing that you forget that there were ever bruises and blemishes to begin with. Savannah does this not just with apples, but with people. She brings out the best because she seeks out the best in everyone she interacts with. I see this in how she is raising her four little ones and in how she welcomes people into her home.
In addition to raising her children, Savannah also runs Fruitland Acres B&B in the spacious, light-filled room above her garage, where she has thoughtfully and meticulously created an oasis for travelers, partially furnishing it with the work of another neighbor, Dennis, the talent behind FarmFunk, who finds old barns and repurposes the wood in the most beautiful ways (I have a few of his pieces myself). On top of creating a restful, welcoming space, she cooks breakfast for all of her guests (in addition to getting her children ready in the morning). And she often talks about the many interesting people she gets to meet and have conversations with, clearly enjoying being the gracious hostess she is. Her home feels like home to everyone who enters it.
I don’t understand how she does it. How in the world does she care so thoughtfully and patiently for her four little ones (all under the age of 7) and still have the love and energy to put into her B&B and into her community -- oh, and grow and preserve much of the food they eat as well!
I’m just thankful that she finds a way to do it and especially thankful that she looks beyond my blemishes and bruises to see the best in me. Like applesauce, I’m better for knowing her.