Once again, I didn’t win. Once again I walked away without bragging rights. Or did I?
Yesterday I and many others, participated in the Just Jeepin’ Chili Cook off. I planned carefully, considered the best ways to prepare my entry. What I was going to do differently, what I was going to do better. Each ingredient was in the initial stages, carefully considered. I started the day before by inspecting, rinsing, preparing dried pinto beans. Then, yesterday morning I dumped all the beans into the crock pot. I added the tomatoes, the seasoning and chopped onion and started to walk away when it dawned on me I hadn’t added the meat. Browning the hamburger I added that to the pot and walked away. This particular pot has the lid with a stir paddle attachment. That way I could simply walk by, hit the button and watch it stir the pot.
Hours later, when my son came in from work I asked him to taste my entry. He called it bland. Rats. But, I was glad he was honest. I considered my options and added a few spices and some hot sauce. I still had a couple hours for it to simmer.
When the time came to leave for the event, I carefully carried everything to the Jeep. Water to drink, our chairs, cornbread, all carefully put in place. I grabbed my purse and prepared to enjoy the ride, only I ended up being the driver. I even managed to get us there without incident. My fear though about the arrival time was realized. There was nowhere to park where I had wanted. I had to go down the hill that I wasn’t sure my Compass would handle well, but she did. We parked and began the process of carrying the food into the building and getting the name of chili tag in place. I then carried our chairs and cooler out to where everyone was sitting. My son, whose main reason for being there was so I wouldn’t be a lone individual, was off riding his long board. I was fine with that. It also gave me the opportunity to stand in the clubhouse and eat cookies.
I did finally wander back out to where I had placed our chairs only to find that a couple good friends had arrived so I sat at a table with them. While we waited on the chili judging we visited with those around us. Our friends have been part of the group longer than me and participate in more events so they are better known. But, those who stopped to speak with them, spoke with me. I was not ignored as I have experienced in other non-jeep situations. I was invited in and made a part of the conversation. Which continued through out the afternoon. More people spoke with me than I’ve ever noticed before. More people initiated conversations. People walked up to me introducing themselves. I was a part, I was made to feel an integral part of the event and not merely a side decoration that is merely a place holder and not really noticed.
This group of people don’t merely act like family, they are. While we may not all know each other personally, we are all accepted into the family and shown the love of family. When we decide to leave, I carried everything to the car, chatting with people along the way. Star was ducked so I moved the duck to its place on the dash. As we pulled away, this time with my son driving as I don’t like driving in the dark, the warm feeling in my heart rivaled the heat from the bonfire burning in the field. Simple things mean so much. No, I didn’t walk away with one of the winner aprons, but I came away with something better. Acceptance, of myself and new friends, love. Oh and, while my chili didn’t win, I think the cornbread was somewhat of a hit. I took two cakes of cornbread and brought home three slices. So there is that.
Thank you my friend.