You grab your phone and put a reminder in the calendar to make sure you are back to the Eco-Innovation Center in time for the tour. You giggle to yourself when you recall Rufus shaking his finger at you and saying, “Be here on time. The kids run a tight ship. They don't wait around for stragglers.”
You notice that you still have an hour and a half before the tour and decide to head back over to the Inn for breakfast. The crowd is starting to thin out but waiters, waitresses and bus people are busy clearing the deck, apparently for the lunch onslaught.
The sign at the front door says, ‘Seat yourself. Five percent off if you dine with strangers, but it's a good idea to ask if it's alright before you plop yourself down.’ Another sign says, ‘No ties, no tails, no killing of whales, and oh yeah you do need some kind of shoes and a shirt and we're just kidding about the ties and tails, but you do need to leave your harpoons at home.’
What a fun freak show this place is, you say to yourself as you almost laugh out loud. A busboy has just mopped down the top of a small table for two near the door, which would be your normal fare, but you see a couple tables pushed together with a half dozen people around them across the room with a couple of empty chairs and you decide to live dangerously.
As you traverse the thirty or so feet towards this crowd… Listen to yourself you say to yourself. Six people does not constitute a crowd. About six feet away you have the thought, what if they say no? Too late; a couple of them have already seen you coming and now someone is standing and reaching out their hand.
What if they think I am someone else, you think, another stranger but someone they are expecting? Somehow, you halfway choke out, “Is it, I mean, could I?” But before you can get the rest of your question out, people are saying, “Sure, yeah, have a chair.” And someone is even sliding out a chair and waving for you to sit down next to them.
Now you have the opposite thought as you catch sight of the bar out of the corner of your eye. What if I am stuck here with a bunch of early morning drinkers and miss the tour? You scan the table; no drinks, just coffee. You look over your shoulder straight at the bar and see that it is virtually empty. As you turn back, one of the people at the table says, “You have to wait til noon if you want to sample the local brew.” Now you really are embarrassed.
“No, no. I just thought it was interesting, the back bar I mean. No, I couldn't handle, I mean I just want some breakfast.”
“Well you’ve certainly come to the right place for that,” says the middle aged woman on the other side of you. The cranapple pancakes with hot maple syrup and walnuts with a little schlag is my favorite, but the egg dishes are really good too.”
Looking at the menu that someone has just slid your way, you say, “Eggs sound good. What would you recommend?”
A younger woman across the table says that she likes green eggs and Sam.
“What's that?” you ask.
“Oh, it’s a poached egg on a piece of salmon, except that it's actually a fillet of smoked trout that they raise and process here on site on a piece of toast with a dollop of pesto on top.” Someone else says that they like the birds nest.
“What's that? you ask and the waitress who is now at your table says, “It's a nest of freshly steamed, homegrown greens on toast with a poached egg on top, or you can have it fried if you prefer.”
Not wanting to hold up the parade, you hesitantly say, “I'll take that.”
“Poached or fried with what kind of toast?”
“Poached,” you say and inquire about the toast options.
“Kernza, rye, multigrain or gluten free,” she says.
“What's Kernza?” you ask.
“It’s wheat with twenty percent perennial wheatgrass flowers, grown and processed right here on site; has a nutty flavor.”
“I'll take that,” you say.
“Anything to drink?”
Black coffee,” you say.
“Okay,” she says.
Waving her hand around the table, she asks, “You know this posse?”
“Never seen them before in my life,” you say, as she checks the 5 percent discount box.
“They treating you alright?” she asks. You shrug your shoulders. “Come on, people,” she says as she scans their faces with her shoulders raised and her hands stretched out from her sides. “Give the guy a Culver Way welcome, will you?”
Suddenly they burst into song:
We welcome you to Culver Way
We hope you will stay all day or longer
The coffee here is stronger
And we all expect to live longer
Because we care for each other and the earth
And we care for you
And we hope that when you leave here if you ever do
That you will care too, enough to send us somebody else
Who is brand new just like you
At the conclusion, everybody starts laughing and hugging and the waitress says, “Okay, now suppress yourselves.”
After that the ordering continues and as each person finishes placing your order they introduce themselves. You have a rousing time between bites of food and sips of hot coffee and you can't believe it when the 10 minute warning sounds on your phone.
Luckily you have already paid your bill and you are pleasantly surprised that in addition to the friendly stranger discount you get another 5 percent discount by paying in Ingots. Now you have a pocketful of wooden nickels, dimes and quarters what you would like to hold onto for the sheer novelty of it, but you decide to leave them for a tip, along with a couple of Susan B’s that you have left in change from your Metro ticket.
As you say adieu to your impromptu hosts and head for the door, you take more of a look around at your surroundings. To the left of the bar are the restrooms and behind that a well lit atrium with entrance to and outdoor courtyard beyond. A water feature of some kind is cascading from above into a plant surrounded pond at the bottom, and it looks like there's some kind of fire pit in the courtyard.
Above and behind the bar is the mezzanine you work you recall seeing the stairs when you entered wondering where that went. That must be how do you access a mezzanine. That must be where those stairs go, you decide. You remember seeing people going up and down another set of stairs, some in workout clothes, so you decide that must lead to some kind of health club or spa.
In the front, right hand corner is a stage, a portion of which extends across the bottom of the storefront windows with steps leading up to small table seating for couples. It is screened from the rest of the restaurant by shelves filled with community produced canned goods and small souvenirs and gift items and basic green household supplies.
To the right, there are booths along the wall with large windows at each booth where the morning sun is streaming in. As you continue towards the door, you notice that there are also freezer and refrigerator cases filled with fresh food and beverages, all with varying versions of the Culver Way Ecovillage logo with hands clasped in a circle that says, ‘All In Fusion Enterprise’. You realize you have noticed that everywhere you’ve gone.
Please continue to Chapter 4
Yours in Community,