Hospitality: the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. -dictionary.com
Summer is the time for visitors, at least here in Alaska. As we’ve been getting the house ready for guests, I’ve been thinking about hospitality.
I’ve been on the receiving end of hospitality countless times, with friends and relatives who share their homes, their meals, and their lives. They’ve been welcoming and generous, but one of my most memorable acts of hospitality was unexpected.
Once upon a time, my husband and I were on a camping vacation in Montana. We set up the tent in a state park campground. The woman in the camping spot next door greeted us and said they'd come to pick wild huckleberries. When I mentioned I'd never tasted a huckleberry, her mouth dropped open in surprise. She ran into their camper calling, "They've never tasted huckleberries!" and returned with a small box full of what looked like giant blueberries. They tasted like blueberries, too, but more so, sweeter and juicier. Delicious. Sharing her harvest with strangers: a wonderful example of hospitality.
I thought of her many years (and two kids) later, on a family vacation in Hawaii. We picked up a pineapple at the grocery store and hiked to a waterfall. After we swam in the pool under the falls, I cut up the pineapple for a snack. If you've never had fresh, ripe, locally grown pineapple, you can take my word that it's exponentially better than canned. A young couple walked by, smiling at the sight of my kids with pineapple juice running down their chins. When I offered them some fresh pineapple, their faces lit up as if they'd won the lottery.
I like books that offer hospitality. Books that make me feel at home, that invite me to relax and get to know the characters. And when the stories offer an unexpected treat, sharing a little taste of something unique, that’s when I fall in love.