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Old friends

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HCP columnist

It amazes me that we have known each other for 40 years. To my eye, we both look the same as we did the day we met, standing in her mother’s kitchen, real butter under a ceramic lid, as I learned to make wine from her father.

We laughed as we remembered how on weekend evenings it would take us hours to get ready to go out. We would try on this pair of jeans and then another. Should our pants legs be tucked into our boots or left out? We would spin and twirl in front of the long mirror, modeling our clothes until the night was almost done, and we were finally ready to go, to walk through the door and into the world of the pinball challenge.

I remember the click of the coins as we placed our quarters on the glass to wait for our turn to reign. To this day, I am amazed that we both possessed such a curious skill.

For some unknown reason, we were both quite good at keeping the small metal pin balls ricocheting off the electric rubber bumper pads and racking up point after point after point. The balls bounced and flew, and only after a good long run would they slip, much to our dismay, between the bottom flippers and slide into the electric dark of pinball oblivion. It seemed that we never lost a match.


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Competitors’ quarters lined up on the glass, but our rule would hold firm, until we decided it was time to head home.

But years had passed, and our hair had grayed, though still to my eye, we had not changed one bit. I cannot remember the last time I held onto a pinball machine, my index fingers poised over the flipper buttons, the palms of my hands resting firmly on the rounded metal corners, ready to gently nudge, but not to tilt, the magic machine.

We did the morning chores as our husbands talked about projects, some planned, others completed. My friend plans to build a greenhouse, and I could see that she and her husband were fascinated with ours. We hope to have a heated floor under our new downstairs bedroom, and they have two such floors. 

We planned a visit north to see what they have done. We both heat with wood and they also have maple trees on their land. They left with six sap spiles tucked into their pockets, dreaming of fresh sap simmering into syrup on top of their wood stove.

The time passed quickly, and we talked nonstop until it was time for them to fold up their tent, pack it into the back of their car and head home to their world, but before they left we told them about one of our favorite treasure spots, just off the main road. We typed the address into their GPS, we hugged one more time, and waved from the front porch as they drove off down the hill.

Greg went to his shop to tinker as only Greg can. I sat down in the porch swing, a dog by my feet. The sunshine felt gloriously warm, but the shade was perfectly cool. I looked over at the treasures I had set out on the porch table; sieves for sifting through the creek gravel, and a collection of old iron garden frogs. And then I realized that it was time to go inside and get started on some inside chores. The afternoon passed quietly by as I worked at the table, until my phone vibrated with the signal of a new message. I picked it up.

My friend and her husband had just left the treasure spot and she was happy to report that she had found a few treasures to take back home, some crystal rocks, two copper pots and an iron frog – which had only cost $12.50!

I glanced out the window at my frogs and smiled, once again amazed that even though years may have passed, and our hair may have grayed, to my eye, we have not changed one single bit.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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