by Lydia Floren
It’s cold up here in Wisconsin, so when the weather finally warms up, most of us folks try to stay out of doors as much as possible. For me, that means spending lots of time in my garden.
Gardening is different in the Northwoods. We are in the “3b” USDA cold hardiness zone. The little purple stripe on the tippy top of the map.
What that means is that the growing season is short, and only certain types of plants will survive. I have learned that perennials – flowers that come back every year – are the way to go. Several friends and neighbors have shared extras perennials with me over the years (and most of them I have managed to keep alive). For example, Liz gave me some hostas, and my neighbor across the road some angel’s wings. Rhoda donated some bee balm and a rose bush I can’t kill (I am quite good at killing roses!). Lori contributed a bunch of day lilies and ferns, and I think some purple iris (was that you, Lori?).
Anyway, the explosive color in my yard summer after summer is in largely due to these dear folks’ kindness. These flowers bless me and my family every year, and many others who happen by, for some reason or another. Often they remind me of the friends who contributed so generously to my garden, the memories prompting me to give thanks for the friend.
Gifts that keep on giving can come in all kinds of packages. They might be plants, or tangible presents people have given, like the afghan Karley crocheted for me, or the little pillow Debra gave me for my birthday one year. But the kindnesses that I most vividly remember are often the ones I can’t see or touch. Terri, for example, taking an afternoon to shop for clothes just for me. Karen sending her boys over to help me sod the backyard, before Michael and Kiley’s wedding reception. John Larson making me feel like a part of the team, when I started practice in Bloomer. Ms. Paula patiently listening, as I tearfully shared some small concern about my kindergartener. John Markquart rescuing me on the side of the road, where I was stuck in the snow.
And my sister, Becky, painting my toenails while I was flat on my back after surgery.
Kindness endures. It lasts long after the ground freezes over, the polish wears off, the clothes are discarded. A kindness – especially an intangible kindness – is remembered and shared and multiplied, traveling far beyond where you think it has gone. And, while many can be touched by it, kindness invariably blesses the giver most of all.
So, if you feel that nudge to share an extra smile, or go out of your way a a bit, or give away some of what you have, do it. Kindness is never wasted. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.
Be kind and compassionate to one another. Eph. 4:32
What memories do you have of someone being kind to you? Please share. We would love to hear from you.