the crickets are strong tonight. a steady pulse in the night. everything is still except for their song. our neighbors were here for dinner. a potluck under the stars. simple dishes that filled our bellies. and different wines that complimented the evening. kids giggling and playing. parents talking about the children's new teachers. i took edgar walking and when i re-approached the house i could hear the laughter and voices and see the warm glow of light in the backyard. there was the lovely scent of summer smoke from our little fireplace. and the squeak of the porch swing chain. sometimes our lives are crowded and my mind is full and distracted, and i forget to open my house to these moments. i want to be welcoming regardless of what is troubling my mind. or if my floors are vacuumed. an open door. a warm hearth. a cup of tea or glass of wine. a conversation. a smile. an understanding glance. these are the gifts i find the sweetest and are so wonderful to give.