For about three weeks in July 2015, I traveled around the country of Estonia, bumping into the Baltic Sea to the north and west, the Latvian border to the south, and the Russian border to the east. I loved Estonia, and wished I could have wandered it for a lifetime, crisscrossing it over and over like some steel ball in a pinball machine, meeting all the 1,325,000 people who call the country home.
One day while couchsurfing in a rural cottage, my host Marju — that’s her in the yellow dress — and several of her friends built a sauna in the yard. The project took up most of the long summer day, and somewhere in the middle of it all a neighbor who lived around a curve in the dirt road and who knew of the work in progress walked over with a batch of warm homemade donuts. Her name was Asta — that’s her holding the bowl.
Late that night, the sauna complete and heated, and several bodies blissfully sweating inside it, I thought back to how wonderful the day had been. Friends working together side-by-side, to make something good. And a neighbor, knowing what was happening around the bend, going there with a gift, homemade and delicious.