“You have a beautiful garden!” I yelled over the fence to the gentleman sitting with one hand on his knee, holding a watering hose in the other. His white whiskers were visible from where we stood on the east side of his white picket fence.
“Thank you,” he responded, “do you like beets?”
So started the conversation with my older and wiser neighbor on Friday evening. He has to be at least in his mid 80’s – he told us he retired in 1988. I wasn’t even born then. What started as a comment in passing as Dylan and I tried to wander up to our house from the lake turned into a two hour excursion with our elderly neighbor. Casual conversation and small talk turned into a delightful adventure, a learning experience, a chance to absorb some wisdom.
Dylan and I were told to go gather some plastic bags that we could fill with our own share of veggies. We were invited into the massive garden and walked the rows of fruits and vegetables following this gentleman through the plants. I felt like such a city girl. I squealed with delight as he unearthed potatoes and carrots, parsnips and squash. I realized just how removed I am from the food I eat every day. I learned about what it takes to successfully grow a peach tree in Colorado (apparently the peach pit has to freeze in the ground for one season before it can take root and sprout fruit in the next season). I learned that the flavor of parsnips overtake the flavor of anything else you may try to cook. Raspberries come in a golden variety. Beets have beautiful leaves and watermelon and squash take tender loving care. We came home with our arms full of vegetables and our hearts full of joy.
I was reminded in the simple pleasure and reward of connecting with those who are near you. Too many times we walk by others in silence, choosing to remain in our own heads rather than extending a hello or asking with sincerity, “How are you?” I think this applies at work, at home, at the grocery store, with your neighbors. Dylan and I have lived in our house for seven months and I had yet to meet my neighbor. When I had the courage to extend a few words, my kindness was met and matched substantially. This gentleman could have easily ignored us, too. Instead we shared in a man’s passion, gained new wisdom, and came home with our hands full of food. It isn’t every day that you are given a bouquet of roses from a man over the age of 80. I found the candy cane variety of rose particularly delightful.
This exchange brought me so many beautiful emotions. I missed my grandfather, and hoped that if he had come across two people our age back when he was living in Chicago, that they would have taken the time to learn from him. I felt completely full of life walking that garden. The soil producing so many tangible rewards. The reality of the need for patience – to trust that things are being cultivated and producing even in the midst of dirt. I was thrilled we took the time to acknowledge those living alongside of us and that Dylan was kind and patient right by my side. This interaction set the tone for my weekend and renewed a sense of responsibility that we have to learn from those who are around us. So many veggies, so much delight.
No biscotti or nail polish this week. It was, however, Star Wars Night at the Rockies’s Game which was bizarre. And I found these wooden clogs at my in-laws house that just made me want to have a fairy garden and prance through the woods.
We need to take time to delight in the mysterious and pay attention to what makes you say, “oooh I think I like that” no matter how odd it may seem. Find your passion, right?