All women but one were college-educated, three were retired, although one still worked part time, and one devoured adult education classes at the local university.
We are enriched by our reciprocate differences.
Each of us brought something to add to the meal. One women was a vegetarian, one a vegan, one gluten-intolerant and the other two vowed they enjoyed and ate all foods ... omnivores to the core! Three drank wine, two did not.
We moved to the dining room and the obviously thoughtfully arranged dinner table. Then we noticed that, at each place setting, the hostess had put a rock or a polished stone. When someone commented about this, the hostess simply said it was a last-minute thought, adding that she loves and collects small pebbles and rocks, keeping them in a wooden bowl on the table.
Before we began our meal, we were asked to pick up our polished stone or our organically shaped rock, hold it in our hand and share with others what we felt when we held the object.
Well, who knew? We all, every one of us, said we always liked rocks, stones, pebbles, and several of us said we, too, collected them. Around the table, one after another, we expressed everything from a childhood memory involving colorful stones picked up and put in our pocket, a beach trip when we were newly wed and our partner found an agate that exactly resembled the one now in our hand, a tearful recollection of the pebbles a child brought to her now-deceased mother and a memory of a geologist father who taught his daughter about natural rocks, stones, minerals and crystals.
During our meal we discussed when we might gather again, and where. Almost at once, two of us mentioned the Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum, just 25 minutes west of Portland. The other three, upon hearing a bit about the variety and the displays, agreed they'd like to visit. The date was set.
On that Saturday, we met for lunch at a nearby cafe and then drove on to the museum. Again, any differences in our lives, our ages, our connections, faded away as we spent the next four hours touring the museum; sometimes self-guided and at times one or two of us joined a tour, absorbing, learning and being fascinated by the vast and unusual collections at the Rice Museum.
If it weren't for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.