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THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET
by Barbara O'Neal

Genre: General Mainstream Fiction, Mainstream

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In the stillness just after dawn, Lavender Wills walked the perimeter of the farm, as she did every morning. Rain or shine — and it could be a lot of rain in the Willamette Valley in Oregon — she strode with her dogs along the lavender fields and the greenhouses, following the line of the fields where meat chickens were pastured in movable pens, checking to be sure they hadn’t been raided overnight. She eyed the fences around the chicken houses and rounded the beehives, then headed back along the vegetable fields, some of them still tucked under their temporary spring blankets of easily constructed and deconstructed plastic greenhouses.

It was nearly a five-mile walk, counting detours. It kept her alert and healthy, and even now, at eighty-four, she made the distance without much trouble, most days.

Most days.

Every now and again lately, she could feel the shadow of time following along behind her. She glimpsed herself walking this path at four and eighteen before she left to seek adventure, at thirty-two and forty-six, home to visit, at fifty-seven and seventy-three, running the place at last.

*

Life circled. The land taught you that. Soon or late, she’d sleep in the earth she had tended all of her life. What would become of the farm then? This farm, which had been her greatest achievement.

*

By the time she returned to her little office, she knew exactly what to do. Firing up the computer, she wrote an email.

FROM: Lavender@lavenderhoneyblog.com

TO: FoodieFour@yahoogroups.com

SUBJECT: Birthday bash

Well, gals, it’s official. I’ve decided I’m going to have a little fiesta for my eighty-fifth birthday on June 30. That is, in case you don’t know, the night of the blue moon, which is a sign none of us should ignore.

You all know the house is tiny, but there’s lots of land around it. Bring those trailers you haven’t driven; I’ll get you fixed up for water and power, no problem. We’re set up for extra help during the harvest and shearing seasons, so there are plenty of hookups.

The lavender will be in full bloom — a sight you do not want to miss — and we can all take turns showing off our fancy cooking skills. Or not, as the case may be (not naming names, but, Valerie, you can serve the wine. As long as it’s Oregon wine).

Who’s in? Ruby, it’s time to stop mooning (snort!) over Liam and have some fun. You’re too young to be moping around so long. Valerie, you’ve been fretting about that daughter of yours, so bring her and we’ll put her to work in the sunshine. That’ll cure just about anything. And, Ginny, I hear you coming up with all kinds of objections about why your thankless family can’t do without you, but I reckon that Bambi you’ve been showing off in your blog arrived in your life to be taken somewhere, not parked in your driveway just to aggravate your neighbors and husband. COME!

Adventure awaits, chickadees. And I’m not getting any younger.

Lavender