I was looking for something else in my pantry when I found the package of pumpkin spice muffin mix. Not just any muffin mix, it looked high end, probably from a specialty shop. It was a Christmas gift that I had decided to save for a special occasion. Then it kept getting pushed farther back on the shelf until I forgot I had it.
I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty when I saw it, unused, three months later. So I called the friend who had given it to me. Yes, she said, she would love to stop over later for coffee and a muffin.
Soon my kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving. And when I pulled the pan of 12 perfect muffins from my oven, it was clear that they were something special. I set four of them aside to serve that afternoon. But that left eight still-warm muffins calling to me.
So I wrapped a towel around the pan with the muffins still in it, put on my coat and mittens, and stepped out into the cold, windy March day. I headed for our clubhouse, my usual spot for getting rid of too-tempting treats.
Barely out of my driveway, I ran into Sylvia walking her dog Bandit. What’s that? she asked. Muffins, I answered. Want one? She smiled and nodded. How about one for Joe too? I asked. But she obviously could not carry two muffins in her mittened hands while also holding Bandit’s leash. That’s OK, I said. I’ll drop two off on my way home.
I hurried toward the clubhouse, using the muffin tin as a hand warmer. As soon as I walked in the door, I ran into Kathy, our sales assistant. Want a muffin? I asked. Thanks, she said. I’m helping Kaye right now. Want to meet a new neighbor? And as soon as he gets off the phone, I can introduce you to our new guy too.
I went over to greet my soon-to-be neighbor and offered her a muffin. I really shouldn’t, she said, but accepted one anyway. After we chatted for a few minutes, I knew she would fit in here just fine.
I looked into the office and saw “the new guy” had finished his phone call, so I went over to introduce myself. Mitch, our new construction manager, shook my hand and said he would love a muffin. He set it aside for later, then asked me about my home. It’s great, I said. I love it. But my one-year warrantee has been up for a while, so you won’t have to do anything for me. OK, he said, but I’d still like to know how your experience has been. Any problems? None at all, I assured him and let him get back to work.
Feeling a blast of cold air, I looked over and saw Dee and Steve walk in. Dee lives next door to me and is my go-to person for decorating advice. Steve is a staff member who takes care of warrantee repairs for homeowners, does trim work on new homes, and knows how to fix anything around here.
Want a muffin? I asked them. I would love one, Dee said. But Steve, whom I had never known to turn down food, shook his head no. He held up two grimy, greasy hands, and I saw the problem. How about if I peel the paper off one and put it in your hand? OK, he said, and I did. A couple of minutes later, he was eating it as he went back outside.
I didn’t want to leave without giving Carol, our sales consultant, a muffin, but she wasn’t in her office. She was showing an out-of-town buyer around—something she’s been doing a lot of recently. I left her muffin next to her computer.
Then it was back out into the cold, with my two remaining muffins. I dropped them off with Joe and Sylvia and hurried home. When I walked in my door, I glanced at the clock. It was amazing. I had been out and about talking with people for almost 45 minutes. And that’s one of my favorite things about living here.
No, it doesn’t happen every single time I walk out my door. But it does more often than you might expect. And as our weather finally warms up, I look forward to more of these friendly neighborhood chance encounters.