“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” Fred Rogers, creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, an American television show
There’s a widower a few houses down whom we refer to as Plant Guy. This is because he gives us plants out of his household abundance, which overflows his front porch every summer.
“Do you want some dumb cane?” he asked a couple of summers ago. I said yes even though I had no idea what dumb cane was.
He sent me home with a bucket filled with dirt and three bare, green sticks. In a herbaceous miracle, they have since grown to take over a corner of our stairway landing, with leaves so broad and glossy it’s easy to imagine assembling them into a skirt. Eve style.
Plant Guy is also the source of multiple other plants that spill from tables and window sills both in our home and in my husband’s workplace. What a neighbor, Plant Guy.
And, his generosity goes beyond plants. He maintains a water bowl at the end of his sidewalk for neighborhood dogs and cats who might be thirsty. When his wife was still alive, he once gave each of our then-little daughters a gold dollar coin just so they could turn them in their fingers and watch them sparkle on our walk home from the playground.
So, you can imagine our surprise last fall when Plant Guy suddenly sprouted political signs that expressed sentiments we do not share. Had he suddenly lost it? Was he a closet badnick? Or, was he just looking at the world from a different perspective?
We considered what we know about the man and finally decided on the latter. Some people have taken their perspective and spewed hatred here, there and everywhere. Plant Guy has not. Some people have taken their political opinions into the criminal arena. Plant Guy has not. He’s a plant-loving, dog-loving, people-loving man with whom we have a difference of political opinion.
We don’t like his opinion, in fact. But, we do like Plant Guy. So, we’re going to just keep on being neighbors. Day by day. Week by week. And, come summer, I expect I will again be carrying home a bucket of dirt and what looks like nothing. I suspect it will turn into something wondrous.