“I’ll do it myself.”
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Dobbin is preparing for the annual town picnic. It’s the biggest event of the year and it’s his turn to be the menu planner.
Satisfied with his dinner outline, he smiles at Dodie, the entertainment coordinator, “I have the menu set. I’ll put a sign-up sheet by the library for the community to pick what food dishes they want to bring.”
Dodie responds “Great job, Dobbin! I have the schedule prepared for the bands and a layout of the park for all the game stations. It’s going to be a great event.”
They let out a winning cheer with a high-five. Dobbin and Dodie then ride their bicycles to the library.
Dodie looks over the menu and says, “Yum, pecan pie. I make a great pecan pie.” She adds her name.
As they wait for people to walk by, Dobbin says, “You know, my family tells me my turkey pot pie is the best in town. I’ll put my name down in that slot.”
Dodie looks at the list again, “I see you wrote lemonade. Deidre uses her great, great, great grandmother’s family recipe. I’ll sign her up. She’ll be thrilled to share it.” Dodie scribbles her name down.
Dobbin comments, “Speaking of lemons, last week I tried a new recipe. Garlic salmon with lemon butter. It’s delicious! I’m more than happy to make it.” And signs his name.
Dodie, surprised, says, “Are you sure, Dobbin? That’s very generous of you!” She squints to look at the bottom of the page, “Potatoes au gratin, definitely Dean. Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, Denise does it best.” I’ll pencil their names in and give them a call.
Dubbin thinks out loud, “Stir fried vegetables. I wonder if I should make those. Since I know the salmon recipe, I’ll make sure the side dishes complement the protein. It’ll be fun. I’ll make it a cooking day.” And he signs his name again.
Daniel approaches and overhears them talking. “I see you have the menu ready for our town picnic.” He looks over the list, “Looks delicious!” and beams, “I’d like to help. Let’s see, Dodie you’re bringing pecan pie, Deidre, lemonade, Dean, potatoes au gratin, Denise, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Dobbin, you’re bringing grilled vegetables, turkey pot pie and garlic salmon in lemon butter. What else is there?”
Dobbin responds, “How about if you bring bread?”
Daniel signs his name by the bread, “Happy to do that. Dobbin, David from the fish shop can provide the salmon. How about if I help you with the vegetables?”
“Thanks Daniel, but I think I’ll be fine. I don’t mind getting the salmon and doing the vegetables.” he responds.
Daniel looks at Dobbin, “That’s quite a hefty responsibility. You’re going to do the grilled vegetables, the turkey pot pies and the grilled salmon? How about if I take some of that off your plate? No pun intended!” They all laugh.
Daniel says, “Thanks, friend. I can cook those two meals in my sleep. Shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
“Do you have the time to do all that cooking, Dobbin? You volunteer at the fire hall, you teach painting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then there’s your real estate business. Are you sure, Dobbin, you can handle all this?” Daniel showed concern.
“It’s only once a year. If you asked me to do this every week, I would have to say no. But for this annual event, I’m more than happy to do it. I love to cook.” he reassures Daniel.
“I know you love to cook, Dobbin. You’re very good at it. I’m just worried about you overextending yourself. You don’t have to carry this responsibility alone.” explains Daniel.
Daniel continues, “Please let me at least take care of the vegetables. My friends are coming over on Thursday. I’ll tell them to pitch in. Instead of our poker night, we’ll prep the veggies and have work stations for the turkey pot pie. As the saying goes, more hands make light work. If you really must do the prep work, then let’s all show up at your house and do it all together. It’ll be a pre-party to the town event.”
Dodie agrees, “Great idea, Daniel. If I get my pecan pies done, I’ll stop by to help too.”
Dobbin struggles with his suggestion, “It’s not that I don’t want your help, Daniel. I sincerely believe I’ll be ok. What if I call you if it gets too much?”
Daniel responds, “Thursday night would be the perfect night for us to help you. Make sure to call me before Thursday night.” He looks at his watch, “I best be going. I’ll bring the bread Saturday morning. I’ll ask Dana to buy butter and Dover to bring several jars of his delicious strawberry jam. I’ll also make sure Don brings a bunch of honey jars from his bee farm.”
As Daniel walks away, Debbie and her dog stop by and notice the menu list. “What a feast!” she laughs. “Menu looks great. I make a fantastic pecan pie. How about if I bring five pies with me on Saturday?” she asks.
Dodie brightens up with the offer, “Well, you just lightened my load. Your pies are mouthwatering.”
“Would you rather I bring eight?” she asks again. “I’m more than happy to bake. I bake every Wednesday. And just last week I bought a five pound bag of pecans and a box full of corn syrup. I’ll have those done in a few hours.”
Dodie is thrilled, “If you make eight and I make eight, that’ll be plenty for the townspeople.”
Debbie looks at Dobbin’s list, “That’s quite the undertaking you’re carrying by yourself. My grandpa was a wheat farmer and always reminded me that people can do things more quickly and easily when they work together.”
Deb’s pup barked and was ready to chase his frisbee. “It’s catch time. I’ll see you Saturday!”
Many more of the community stopped by to sign up, asking how they can help with the meal planning. David insisted on bringing his spring water from the mountain cabin. Delinda wouldn’t take no for an answer in bringing baskets of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce from her garden. Delia, the grocer, received two shipments of tortilla chips and was overstocked on salsa. One by one, villagers signed up to help with the food. Each asking Dobbin if they could help him.
He would smile and say, “I can do it myself. It really isn’t a big deal. Happy to.” He repeatedly reassured the townspeople he had it under control, and that it wasn’t too big of a burden to carry.
As the days led up to the big event, Dobbin kept experiencing interruptions. They were significant enough to pull him away from his cooking plan. His son received a community award for most outstanding citizen. It was important for Dobbin to be present to watch him receive the award. Dobbin’s art studio experienced a water leak and he needed to get all the oil paintings and canvases out of the building quickly. Dobbin also had a friend going through a personal crisis and needed encouragement. And the firefighters surprised Dobbin with a day of skiing as a thank you for his volunteer service. All valuable matters that were unexpected.
It was Thursday morning and Dobbin hadn’t even begun to prepare the meals he committed to for the annual picnic.
He ran out to the store to buy the items. As he walked through the aisles, he began to feel a little overwhelmed. He filled his trunk with overflowing bagfuls of groceries. He stopped at David’s fish shop to collect the salmon. By the time he got home it was one o’clock.
He started with the salmon, making sure they were seasoned and foiled for the grills and put back in the fridge. He had the music playing in the background. Singing while he cooked was always something he loved to do. He looked at his watch and it had just turned four o’clock.
Just then Daniel calls Dobbin. “How’s your vegetables coming along?”
Dobbin’s voice crackled. “I’ve had quite the week, but I think I’ll be ok. I finished prepping the salmon, they’re ready to grill on Saturday. I’m starting on the dough for the turkey pot pies. I’ve got all of tomorrow set aside to prepare the vegetables.” he explains.
Daniel responds. “Are you sure you don’t want me and my buddies to help you tonight? I have a feeling the turkey pot pies won’t be finished until well into the night.”
Dobbin grew quiet. He didn’t know what to say.
“The group is meeting at nine o’clock. Call me in the next couple of hours if you need help.” Daniel happily offers, again.
They hung up the phone and Dobbin began to work on the dough. He pressed 20 shells into tin pie plates. The filling still needed to be cooked and mixed. The pies would need to bake for 45 minutes. Vegetables still needed to be cut and skewered.
Dobbin began to lose the enjoyment of cooking. It was now eight o’clock, and he was still making pie shells.
The phone rang again. It was Daniel, “How are things going, Dobbin?”
Embarrassed, Dobbin made a light pun, “I think I bit off more than I can chew.”
“You sure did, Dobbs. The weight of responsibility is a light load to carry when it’s carried by a team. We’ll be over soon. We’re coming to help you.”
With that, Daniel began to text his friends, “Poker is at Dobbin’s tonight. Bring a cutting board and knife. Tonight the poker chips are vegetable sticks.”
Text messages rapidly came in:
“Count me in.”
“I’m wearing my chef hat.”
“I’d better sharpen my knife.”
“What’s a cutting board?”
“I’ll raise you 10 carrots.”
At that moment, Dodie knocks on Dobbin’s door, “I was in the neighbourhood. Thought I’d check up on you. My house smells like a bakery. Pies are done. Need an extra set of hands?”
The evening turned into a vibrant, energized, lighthearted prep-party. Dobbin was the chef and had a bunch of sioux chefs buzzing around the kitchen, taking their direction from Dobbs. The house was filled with laughter and banter. It was midnight when the last set of turkey pot pies came out of the oven. The vegetables were skewered and the salmon was ready.
The next day, Dobbin joined the recreation team and helped put up lights, assisted in building the stage and hauled prizes to each game station. The team rallied a dozen grills from the community. The entire area was decorated with colorful balloons and pennants. Games and activities were spread out over the park, the musicians were doing their mic checks, and every picnic table was covered with red checkered cloth.
Saturday arrives. Families, friends and local business owners gather for their favorite annual festivity.
Dobbin walks around the picnic tables, watching the people enjoy the abundance of food. Under his breath he said, “Not to self, Dobbs, the best way to accomplish great ideas is to lighten the burden by partnering with others.”
The town picnic was a big success and a lasting reminder that more hands make light work.
– Karen Thrall