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The Giveaway Box
(non-random acts of kindness)


This morning my walk took me past the Japanese lady's house just as she appeared at the orchard gate. Apparently, she likes to talk as much as I do, so we spent quite a while, and in the process I heard her tale of having been born in California, then moving to Japan

just before WWII broke out, on the advice of a family friend who saw what was coming ("I just wished I'd had someone to talk to," she said, trying to explain the feeling of being a cultural outsider in the land of her ancestors.) Eventually, a dozen years after the war, the family made the return trek to California.

While we were talking, her husband Yoshi came from the back of the garden with his usual overflow of produce, this time consisting of a small bouquet of flowers and a few pieces of fruit, which he proceeded to put in the box on the little table outside the orchard's fence. This is the family's custom. When they have extra, they put the excess out for passers-by: lemons, grapefruits, Asian pears, flowers. Today there were half a dozen persimmons in the box with a hand-written note from Yoshi urging the visitor to give the not-so-familiar fruits a try and offering tips for ripening and eating them. Today there were also two bouquets, so I took the smaller one with me, and now I have a cheery little reminder of a neighbor's kindness sitting on my desk, as you can see above.

In a time when people seem overwhelmingly to be rushing, often rude, and self-absorbed in their franticness, it heartens me to have these small reminders of the generosity that lies latent within us. It urges me to go out and spread that generosity in some small way of my own. Who knows where it might lead: a contagion of good.

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