My neighbors helped me out with a problem this past month.
The tree I started from a pit 7 years ago produced way too many avocados for us to keep up with. We harvested 30 about three weeks ago when the top of the tree broke of the sheer weight of these enormous things, and we knocked down another 15 before Hurricane Isais was to hit us. [Am I allowed to whine that the hurricane was a non-event and that our avocados would have been even bigger and more delicious if they’d stayed on the tree? Talk about a luxury problem!!] An avocado contains many good things but also too much potassium for my husband to be able to enjoy one, and it turns out that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing for one person to handle.
Normally, our daughter would take some home when she visits, but the pandemic has quashed weekend travel plans. Normally, I’d take a bag up to my WW meeting, but we’re meeting on Zoom these days, or share them with friends when we meet for breakfast, but we’re not doing that either.
So, I’ve been distributing them, two- and three-at-a-time, to my neighbors.
We have gotten to know another neighbor through food during the pandemic. For the first couple of months, we used the delivery services of our local markets rather than shopping ourselves, and we were happy when our shopper turned out to be our neighbor. Like so many people, she has been marginalized by the economic downturn, and the hourly job meant a lot. We tipped well. Hope you’re all tipping these connectors well.
Our relationship has developed. When she has extra from her weekly produce from Feeding South Florida, she reaches out to us. She has given us so many apples that I made her a pie. And also gave her avocados.
We wouldn’t be doing any of this were it not for the pandemic. My husband’s Barcelona-born mother had a saying: “No hay mal que por bien no venga.” In English, it’s less poetic: some good comes of every bad thing. Being kind is a very good thing at a very bad time.
In a recent article, AP reporter Seth Borenstein tells us that humans are hard wired to be kind.
Doing kindness makes you happier and being happier makes you do kind acts.Richard Layard, London School of Economics
And it’s not just emotional. Research has found that kind people feel better physically. University of California Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has shown that genes triggering inflammation are turned down in people who do nice things for others. Being kind might even save you during a pandemic.
… she’s found more antiviral genes in people who performed acts of kindness.Seth Borenstein
In the here and now, I just know if makes me feel happy to connect with my neighbors in this way.
But here’s the real story. This morning, I learned that my neighbor’s father, who passed away last year, had avocado trees, and that my giving his daughter some of our harvest gave her, and her mother who now lives with them, a way to reconnect with his memory. It meant everything to them.
My mango tree — also grown from a pit — should finally produce fruit next year. Can’t wait to share!
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