Driving across the state of New York, we have a full day on the road ahead of us. Fortunately, one of my husband’s summer-school classmates, an established professor in the state’s university system, and his wife have invited us to overnight at their home on the western edge of the state.
In order to coordinate our time of arrival, a few phone calls pass between us. In addition to establishing arrival time, inquiries are made about my possible dietary restrictions, as I am breastfeeding. Our hostess asks me whether or not I am eating onions and garlic, a respectful consideration about which I have never even thought.
After a full-day’s drive and with a summer of intensive, academic study behind us, we pull into our hosts’ driveway physically hot, sticky and thoroughly exhausted. The Alexanders’ home is a towering two-and-one-half-story Victorian which has been fully restored. An extensive, rowed stand of freshly trimmed arbor vitae salute us like a brigade of crisply uniformed sentinels clad in dark green, guarding the borderline of the property.
Exhaling, we open our car doors slowly unbending to begin the process of selective unpacking. We are here for one night.
Soon the Alexanders are at our sides to help us carry our things inside. As we enter their home, we set our things down for a tour of their restored and carefully maintained property. The charcoal grill on the back patio has already been fired up for the outdoor dinner they have planned. Ushering us through the house, we are shown through the large kitchen, formal dining room, den, expansive living room, two full baths, one half bath and four bedrooms. The attic alone remains a mystery. The bedroom, where we are staying, has three tall stacks of extra-large, plush towels carefully laid out on its bedspread.
After settling in and freshening up, the three of us descend the broad staircase to meet our hosts on the patio for a generous, outdoor meal. Stories about travels, extraordinary people and life adventures are exchanged. My husband and I attempt to express our gratitude for the incredible degree of hospitality being shown to us, to which the Alexanders graciously reply, “You will be able to do this for someone else someday.”
Over dessert and tea in the formal dining room, we are informed that a breakfast date has been set for seven o’clock the next morning. We will be meeting the Alexanders’ son and daughter-in-law, both newly employed public-school teachers, at a pancake house for breakfast. With this last bit of news, we are excused for the evening and climb the stairs to bed.