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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

The Kindness of Strangers: Goodrich Ave.

It's 90 degrees in St. Paul, MN, and the report says it feels like 98. And it's rising. And we live in a metal box, shining like an exploding star rushing toward Earth to crush us with fire.

S'okay! We aren't going to die. We are charging our spare fan battery at a coffeeshop, now. And also, we have new friends.

We are the street cats of Goodrich Avenue, these days. Here in this fine off-street of St. Paul you will find magical mysteries like tiny garden gnomes and Little Libraries and giant statues of Pooh Bear holding the hand of Christopher Robin made out of trees that used to stand where Tigger is now. And best of all, there are some shady trees on the side of the street where our camper is parked. And we sit, now, between two houses across the street from each other that hold our new friends.

The thing is, we met Brian and Sheralyn Barnes last year, through a long convoluted story that seems only an untraceable part of our forming friendship. Brian and Sheralyn let us park in their street last year, too. And use their shower. And have a key to their apartment. And their laundry room. We were living like street royalty.

Brian and Sheralyn Barnes.

But this time through, Sheralyn and Brian not only set us up a sweet house show on a farm in Wisconsin (that's them to your left, playing some lovely tunes last Sunday), but also talked to their neighbor Anne who has a dog named Chester who has another human named Stewart who has a son named Ezra who has a dog named Raffa-- and this family unit has a nice backyard and an air conditioned house. So yesterday, after a long and pleasant day off of trying to stay cool in the Mississippi River, we got a call from Anne asking if we would like to sleep... in a house.

We did.

This morning we (gratefully) accepted another night in the Chateau before walking outside (thank you, Anne). Before we got to our camper door, Brian and Sheralyn greeted us from their second story window asking us if we wanted to do laundry and shower. We did. It felt a little like a Walk of Shame and a little like we were the neighborhood cats, on the prowl to get fed at every doorstep, getting coaxed into houses before being let out to prowl on the next one.

We both grew up in the church, and so voluntarily or not, some pieces waft through our brains on occasions like this (raise a child up in the way she must go... No, not that one...). This morning, that business about hosting strangers in your home in case they might be angels was thing rattling in the brain**. But then, I got to thinking: all of these people-- not just Goodrich Avenue in St. Paul, but the kindness of strangers we've had across the country-- are going to be sorely disappointed to find out that this folk band is just a folk band. And truly, we are just using your water and dirtying your sheets and eating the peaches out of the fruit bowl. There's no halo about it. No angels in disguise. Just a couple of road weary mooches who supplement your fancy laundry soap with their cheap stuff so that their clothes smell better than usual.

Butter cooling down in the Mississippi.

Then, in the way that old phrases become new, I realized that this old verse wasn't so mystical after all. Because what our new friends and old friends and willing hosts don't realize is that they are becoming our angels (cue Hallmark Special music here-- or call up John Travolta). Every time we are given something we weren't expecting-- or even were expecting-- this simple apartment or bathroom or guest room or washing machine transforms the hosts from ordinary people to little saving graces. And of course they wouldn't realize they were entertaining angels. The angels are themselves. And it takes a couple of stranger folk band types to make it happen.

Don't get too excited (Mom and Mom)-- The R&T ain't gettin' them religion, yet. You don't have to unsubscribe from our blog in fear of another preachin'. We are just saying that, maybe in an ordinary sort of way, there's a lot of mystery around us stemming from the kindness of strangers.

**"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." --(the Bible and whatnot)

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