As our dinner ends I lean back into my chair and sigh, my hands coming to rest on my full belly. My feeling of uneasiness subsides as my hosts begin the business of clearing the table. A pleasant smile and a subtle hand keep me in my place. I am a guest, and my help in their chore will not be accepted. The work now finished, I am directed to the hearth where a crackling fire ebbs low within its confines.
"Please join us, Mr. Clancy. It is our custom after our meal to sit by the fire and chat about our day."
"Oh, I would most surely love such company," I offer. "I hope I am not intruding. I am an outsider to these lands."
"Nonsense," Reenie replies. "You look a stout fellow. A bit peculiar, I reckin', but you're not from these parts."
We take our seats, my hosts moving to two chairs that I firmly believe have not moved from their spots in many a year. My eyes follow her form as I note the grace with which she moves about the cabin. It is not something I would expect from one who lives in virtual seclusion, a life in the middle of nowhere. Clarisa takes her seat between us as I pull my dinner chair toward the hearth.
"I am sorry I have not the proper chair for you, Mr. Clancy."
"Think nothing of it. I am grateful for the kindness you have shown me this evening."
"Not something I routinely do for trespassers, you understand."
"Now Reenie." Her look was mirthful, a wrinkle embracing her lips as she looked at her husband. "It is not often we receive visitors in our home. We are used to ourselves and our ways, alone."
"I again thank you for your hospitality. I am on a journey and a warm fire and a hearty meal is most welcome."
"You said you are on an adventure. Why would one want adventure?"
"Now Reenie. You of all people should remember adventure. If you lived the life in your youth you live now, you would never have met me."
"Is that so?" I lean forward and stare past Clarisa at my other host. "It would seem that adventure is not only in my soul?"
"Aye, I've had an adventure or two in my time, Clancy. But those are days long gone, and are now but memories."
I pull my chair in closer to the fire as its warmth bathes me. It is the first true warmth I have felt in some time. Yet it is more than that. It is the warmth of home and hearth that I now find I miss upon the road I have begun to travel. One sees only the horizon and not the safety of home. Yet, it is the safety of home that is often a prison to the spirit.
They have extended an invitation to me now and a warm bed sounds most inviting. We settle in for an evening of conversation as a light rain pelts the thatch upon the roof. The work and travel are now done for the day.