This week, my kids (8 and 5) are having their first swimming lessons of the year. On our first day, we had some trouble finding a parking space and ended up scraping our van’s tires against the curb in front of a lovely old house.
As my kids scampered out, an elderly man came across the yard toward us. I was steeling myself for a grumpy shout of “You can’t park here!” (We take swimming lessons in a rather fancy, upscale neighborhood of Seattle, and I definitely get vibes of ‘I don’t belong here’ when I pass through).
But you know what this man said to me? He said, “Do your kids have a few minutes to feed the koi?” I blurted that yes, we did if we were quick, since we had to get to our lesson. As we followed this kind man around to the back of his house where his fish pond was located, we passed rows of dahlia plants, green and leafy but not yet blooming.
“Once these start flowering,” he told me, “I set out scissors and people can come and pick whatever they want.” I was still reeling from the surprise that I hadn’t been shooed off his property but welcomed instead into his generosity.
My kids tossed handfuls of pellets into a pond that this man designed and built himself, complete with a little waterfall. Orange, black, and white fish scales flashed in the sunlight. My kids gave treats to the man’s dog and as we stood there in the garden shade, my heart began to exhale. Our new friend gave us permission to come back anytime and feed the fish.
This visit with a stranger on a day when I was stressing about parking was an unasked-for gift. It’s a template of grace that I want to copy.
It’s the beginning of a beautiful summer.