After I moved back into my house, 18 months after the May 2011 tornado, I realized I had a new neighbor down the street. I would see her working diligently in her yard, or walking her dog, and I’d think, “I need to go introduce myself.” Yet, I didn’t. I’d wave as I drove by. Or she would smile as she walked by with her small dog, yet we never stopped to make a connection beyond the wave or the smile. English was not her first language but she was happy and friendly. I was drawn to get to know her, and yet I hesitated.
This year, in moving past comfort zones and a sense of inertia that can freeze me in place, I am moving beyond. I wanted to meet my neighbor and tell her how much I appreciate the flowers and trees in her front yard and the attention she gives them. With that intention, I looked forward to catching her in her yard and saying “hello” at last.
And then, in late spring, she left for an extended time. She has family in California and Mexico, her friend said, that she was visiting. People would come and go at her house, caring for her yard, but not as she does. The days stretched into weeks and then months. I wondered if I had missed my opportunity to get to know this quiet yet hard working woman.
Last week, she came home! I noticed first that the front yard gardens were looking well kept and freshened. And then I saw her and waved joyfully at her as I drove by. She smiled. Greg spoke to her and prepared the way for me, telling her I’d be visiting her to introduce myself. She said good, she could practice her English. Today, for my first, I at last ventured down the street to meet my neighbor. She smiled as I approached. Aware that she speaks only a little English, I spoke slowly. I welcomed her home. I told her I admired her yard and her flowers and how much time she puts into making her home and property look nice. She smiled. I smiled. She spoke with a beautiful accent and we agreed to get together soon and chat.
I invited her to come, soon, and see my garden in the backyard. We might be limited in the words we will use, but we both have a love of growing things and getting our hands into the warm earth. We both enjoy being outside and that joy can be shared without using many words. I can offer her tea, or we can simply sit among the riotous, glorious flowers and plants and enjoy the sunshine and breezes, the butterflies and bumble bees, and the signs of fall approaching. And…..we can smile.