The leaves were just starting to turn in Ellicottville, New York the weekend we brought our friends there. We piled our bags and our legs into cars and trekked four hours up from Pittsburgh to this place in the mountains.
My parents bought this condo ten years ago, having the foresight to see that it would be more than just a house. We would ski there, ring in every single New Year there, stay up late playing games and lose feeling in our toes on winter hikes.
The condo is a chili-place. I can’t remember too many skiing days that don’t finish with a big pot of chili and a loaf of bread, the perfect comfort food for tired legs and wind-burnt cheeks. It’s the perfect kind of meal for enjoying each other— a good, hearty, satisfying dish that makes you feel whole, but not so flashy it distracts from the conversation. Served with cornbread and a beer, it is as comfortable and familiar as a grandmother or a well read book.
We’ve spent maybe a hundred mornings, gathered in each other’s homes when the rest of the world is still quiet and sleeping. We’ve studied the word, prayed together and learned a little from everyone about what it is to live joyfully.These are the friends who have loved and prayed me through graduate school, who have opened their homes and their coffee pots to Andrew and I during our two years in Pittsburgh. So we escaped to Ellicottville together, to celebrate fall and fresh air and each other.
We hiked, we sat on the couches, we had cups of tea, and we went into town. What a gift, to do the things my family loves most: relax and laugh and enjoy each other, and to do it with friends who love those things too.
At night, we had two big pots of chili and sat around the table long after the sun went down, none of us on a schedule, none of us with anywhere to be or anything to do but enjoy the food and the conversation, and later, berry crumble that melted with the ice cream to concoct the best kind of soup.
When you’ve swallowed food and hiked, prayed and worshipped with people for long enough, the line between friend and family doesn’t seem so thick.
*Photos by the incredibly talented Becca Murden.
Recipes From the Weekend: