Yesterday I took a walk in a different town. It wasn’t a good place for walking. The cars zoomed by and eventually the sidewalk ran out. I had a bit more time before I had to go back to where I had started, so I thought I’d keep going. I came to a shady neighborhood street and saw a sign. “Nursery, everything 70% off,” it said.
Two houses from the corner I came to a yard with a huge ear tree and a lot of plants in it.A giant pothos grew high into the ear tree’s branches, a giant staghorn fern swayed in a slight breeze. Beautiful pottery birdhouses swung from its branches.
It was a shady place on a hot day, and although I didn’t need any plants, I thought I’d walk around looking at things. I noticed that the grass in the backyard grew almost to the top of the chain-link fence. These people are probably elderly and just can’t keep up the property, I thought. A lot of people have antique and thrift stores to house their collections, maybe that’s what’s happening here.
I finished strolling about looking at the plants and flowers and was just ready to leave when a woman came out of the house.
“Are you looking for something?” said she. “This is private property.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought it was the nursery. It’s really beautiful.”
She didn’t seem to want to accept my apology, so I turned to go. She followed, talking about the plants and how hard it was to keep everything up. She showed me a long scar under her arm and said she’d had surgery.
I kept trying to leave without being rude. She followed. She pointed down the street. “The nursery is where the big recycle bin is.”
I could see that the recycle bin was as far as I had already walked. I looked at my watch. Sure enough it was time to head back. She didn’t follow past the parameters of her yard and she obviously didn’t forgive me. I put myself in her place, however, and I knew it would frighten me to see someone roaming around my front yard. I did have a brief thought that seeing another person for a minute might relieve loneliness for a while. I asked God to bless her big time.
I went back to the doctor’s office to meet Bill. While I sat waiting for him, I heard the receptionist make several phone calls to remind people of appointments. She didn’t talk too fast, she could pronounce all the words, she was polite and her voice was beautiful.
Somehow I thought about a time long ago when I was in a grocery store with my Grandmother, Marie Bowers. When we approached the check-out, I said, “That woman has beautiful eyes.”
“When you notice something nice about someone, you must tell them,” Grandmother said.
I went up to the receptionist, excused myself and said, “You have the most beautiful manner I ever heard.”
She all but grabbed me across the desk. “Oh thank you. You’ve made my day! I can’t remember the last time I had a compliment. Sometimes I put my arms around myself and say nice things, just so I can get some approval from somebody.” You can imagine how good that made me feel. I like approval, too. I don’t like to trespass and not be forgiven for it. I had done something right and I was grateful for the camaraderie that sprang from following Grandmother’s advice.
(FYI, none of these pictures are of the yard I mistook for a nursery.}