I have lived on the same street in the same town in the same state since I was born. After years of living in one spot, some things seem to be fixtures of their environment, static pieces of a place that rarely, barely change.
In my neck of the woods, my neighbors are those fixtures. While some have moved elsewhere and made way for new families to take up their former dwellings, many have stayed the same. When I run or walk around my street, I always see them out and about in their yards, tending to their lawns, watering their flowers, trimming their trees. We often chat as I make my way by, chatting about the weather, their gardens, their lawns.
Sometimes, those lovely neighbors share more that just their thoughts on the weather or their grass. Sometimes, they show up at your door with a bounty from their gardens — as one particular neighbor has done for years, showing up with fresh romaine lettuce one year and tomatoes another.
This year, this particular neighbor has gifted my family and I quite the harvest: first, cucumbers and string beans (one more delicious than the next). Then, a brown paper bag filled to the top with the ripest, juiciest tomatoes. Her generosity is always stunning — to watch her walk to our house and drop off some of her produce to share with us can instantly brighten a day.
After the latest bounty of tomatoes, I couldn’t help but feel like she could use some of the same generosity in return. Everyone likes to receive a surprise every now and then, and she’s been more than kind to us. I remembered that I had an extra zucchini bread that I froze, the one I baked on a recent rainy Sunday. It was just days old, so I pulled it out of the freezer and let it defrost. I had a feeling she would enjoy the bread, considering she grows zucchini herself.
We walked the bread over to her house…and somehow, even in the midst of appreciating the surprise bread, she still had to give us something in return: the most beautiful heart tomato and several Italian eggplants. I have never seen such stunning produce before; from the shapes of each to their watercolor-painted exteriors, they were (almost) too pretty to eat.
So what matters today is a place that you’ve known forever with people you’ve known just as long that continue to make the same street in the same town in the same state feel like home. What matters today is a neighbor who can’t help but share the fruits of her labor, the products of her gardening talents. What matters is giving what you have, sharing your talents, and in doing so, spreading a bit of joy. What matters is generosity, the giving of both the tangible and the intangible for the sake of others.
What matters most is not a zucchini bread or a bag of tomatoes, but the thought to go look after your neighbors, to check in on them, to share with them, to give them a little extra love — especially now, especially always.