In a world where we're often too quick to judge, cast a sideways glance, make a rude hand gesture from behind the wheel of our car, or utter disparaging remarks against strangers, colleagues, neighbors, or even family, it's refreshing and wonderful to see shimmering moments of kindness. The type of act that expects nothing in return, but is merely a show of the good that's in people's hearts and minds. The type of act that makes you stop in your footsteps, and appreciate the moment.

I experienced such an act just this last week. Lulu and I were out for our morning walk in our lovely hometown of Old Town, Alexandria, and it was an absolutely beautiful morning. We were strolling one of our favorite streets in town, basking in the cooler summer temperatures not often enjoyed in Northern Virginia amidst the often sweltering and sticky late July days. As we made our way down a city block I paused to admire a home's beautiful front flower garden. While enjoying the beautiful colors and various textures something caught my eye, and I was completely taken aback by this simple message.

In case you can't read the sign in the photo, the words "Pick a bouquet for you and a friend" were etched on a casual slate sign. Conveniently placed next to the message hung a pair or scissors to complete the suggested act.

Maybe it's my too many years in the city where I've witnessed my own or a neighbor's flower garden being ransacked by thieves or flattened into pancake status by an inconsiderate garbage truck, or the threat of surveillance monitoring and legal action against "bloom cutters" I've seen posted near some gardens (no joke), but never have I seen a beautiful cutting garden being willingly (and generously) offered up in such a thoughtful and touching manner.

I stood, feet firmly planted to the ground, for what felt like minutes, and pondering the internal debate of whether or not I should follow the instructions printed in front of me. Was it genuine kindness, or would I touch the scissors and be snapped up in a capture net as part of a horticulture sting operation meant to apprehend the Old Town Bloom Thief of 2013? After a few moments of indecision, I decided that I would take the kindness at face value and help myself to a small bouquet.

Lulu's huge smile is an indication of a fraction of the happiness this experience brought me. It sounds clichéd, but it truly made my day...and then some. I was so happy that I literally bounced home with flowers in hand, and i couldn't wait to share my find with Alex. Just add this little gesture as one more of the already lengthly list of reasons why I think Old Town Alexandria is one of the best places on earth.

To the owner of this garden, I thank you from the bottom of my swelled heart. Your thoughtfulness, generosity, and kindness is noted and appreciated.

Do you have any place or people near your home where their generosity brings a smile to your face. Have you ever experienced a time when you've been caught a little off guard by someone's willingness to give a little something extra, even if not prompted? As you can probably see, this person's garden generosity had its intended effect on me.

Comments 20


8/6/2013 at 10:42 AM
We have a random act of kindness that happens on May-Day, a whole swathe of friends end up with a basket on their stoop or porch that morning. I'm planning on doing something similar in my neighborhood for May Day next year because I love how it makes me feel to see that surprise :)
What a great tradition, and I love that you're carrying it on in your neighborhood!
8/6/2013 at 11:04 AM
My dog and I love all the water bowls that businesses and private homes put out for the dogs. I especially like one on my street that says something along the lines of "Happy Summer to the Old Town pups." I smile everytime we stop there.
Lulu and I love the public water bowls as well! (Her personal favorite are the Hotel Monaco's because oftentimes they have ice!) I don't recall seeing the one you mentioned, but what a nice sentiment! :-)
8/8/2013 at 10:52 PM
The happy summer bowl is on N. Columbus.
8/6/2013 at 1:07 PM
Beautiful, happy post - made me smile :)
:-) Thank you, and that's wonderful to hear, Cathy!
Karin K
8/6/2013 at 2:29 PM
Awwww! Thanks for sharing your random act of kindness! Which kind of perpetuates it...
:-) You're welcome and I agree!
8/6/2013 at 4:20 PM
I love it! But, I also understand your paranoia. I, too, would have battled a fleeting suspicion that it was some sort of trap. Isn't that awful?
Awful? Nah. But it tells me my Ohio upbringing has worn off! ;-)
8/6/2013 at 6:51 PM
Aww, that cheered me up to read about this. Is it sad that my other thought is that the homeowner maybe got tired of people stealing and uprooting flowers from his/her garden and left the scissors so at least the flowers would be snipped cleanly?

I planted zinnias in front of my childhood home once and caught someone just boldly picking them with no remorse when caught. Never planted them again.

We had Asian pear trees in the front yard and I've caught people climbing our fence to get to them. One time, my dad's friend came with his wife and armed with bags to take lots home, when they knew my parents would be gone at a wedding. They didn't anticipate that my brother and I would be home to witness their thievery. And they picked the biggest fruits that my mom was saving for later. The gall!
That did occur to me, actually. Why get mad...instead make it an act of kindness? Pretty ingenious.

I can't believe the story of the pear trees. Shocking!
8/6/2013 at 9:01 PM
This made me so happy. Also, it tied in with this little convocation speech I read today on NYT Magazine... Kindness will prevail!

Thank you so much for sharing this link, Amanda. What an inspirational speech! :-)
8/6/2013 at 9:18 PM
I love this! What an awesome gesture of kindness.
I'm still smiling about it!
8/8/2013 at 1:26 PM
That is so nice! Here in WA we have a few farmers with so many blooms that they make their own bouquets and display them on tables beside the road. Many ask for $5 but there is one farm that gives them away for free! They're beautiful dahlias and roses. I usually leave them a brownie or some cookies in return.
Wow, that's so sweet! I think that's so wonderful too that you leave something special and homemade in return. How nice!
8/10/2013 at 11:22 PM
Aaahh! That is so awesome!
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