No, this isn’t a story about daylight savings time. It’s about a reunion that happened last weekend.
Thirty-five years ago, in a land far, far away, there was a wonderful restaurant called Stone Soup. The name comes from the European folk tale about a traveller who—with a little help—turned a stone and a pot of hot water into a meal. If you don’t know the folk tale, read it here.
Obviously, it’s a story about co-operation and that’s what Stone Soup, the restaurant, was about. A group of people who believed in community building and slow food (long before there was such a term) came together to make a difference.
The people who worked in this co-operative restaurant also owned it. They shopped, cooked, cleaned, invented recipes, dished out food on the serving line, and came in on the weekends to water the sprout jars. It was a business that did well while doing good.
Eventually they expanded into running a children’s shelter, created businesses devoted to baking and sprouting, provided a weekend-venue for live music, and had their own farm land, where they grew a good deal of the produce used in the restaurant.
Their original restaurant site had been a high school for African-American girls. The school closed two years before Stone Soup opened and the building had become a home for half a dozen social services, as well as a day care and a YWCA family life education program.
It was a worn brick building on the edge of the downtown area. The only drawback was a minuscule parking lot, so if you hoped to get a parking spot, you came at the beginning or end of the lunch hour, but not in the middle. The risk you ran by coming at the end was that your favorite dish might be gone. You might have to settle for rhubarb cobbler instead of apple pie, or chili in place of broccoli-chedder chowder. Some hardship!
I did a lot of writing there, especially after I lived within walking distance. The wonderful thing was that, already having my journal with me, a lot of notes about Stone Soup ended up in those journals. I’d originally planned to let my first set of characters spend some time there, but I realized that it was too magnificent a place to be relegated to the background. One day, I’m going to use Stone Soup, up front and centre, as the main stay in a mystery.
The past weekend there was a Stone Soup reunion. I wasn’t able to attend, but with the help of a local florist and the ability to add a PDF document as an e-mail attachment, I sent them flowers and a letter of good wishes. And I spend part of the weekend going through my journals and digging out old photos. It was a wonderful way to turn back the clock.