A couple of days ago, I was shoveling mulch from the pile dumped in my front yard by the people who cut down my pines.  A woman was walking on the street with her baby.  She spoke to me, but I couldn't hear what she said, so I just smiled and waved..  Then she stopped at the end of my drive, obviously expecting some kind of response.  I put down the shovel and walked toward her.  She pointed at her chest and said what I took to be "I you."  I made a puzzled face and as I got closer she said questioningly "I ayuda?"  She was offering to help me!  Not sure if she was looking for payment, which I cannot afford, I asked, in Spanish, "why?"  Her face lit up and she said "Lo me gusto." or "I like it!" This was certainly a novel offer in my neighborhood, so I just said "Gracias.  Yo puedo usar ayuda."  ["Thanks.  I can use help."]  

I learned that her baby boy was a year old.  Her husband is a gardener, aged 40, and works for a couple of my neighbors.  She also has a little girl aged 7.  I learned all their names.  She's from Tegucigalpa, but her parents live in the country outside the capital city.  She loaded my wheelbarrow twice and pushed it to where I wanted to dump it.  I gave her some habaneros and cayennes out of my garden, after asking if she could use them.  She said something as she walked off, but her back was to me and I couldn't really understand it.  I was too tired to ask her to repeat it.  

In about 10 minutes, a truck came up the side street, and the man behind the wheel waved.  They made the corner and parked at the end of my front sidewalk.  It was my new friend and her husband.  We chatted about his work and the condition of my yard.  He told me that next week he would come work in my yard.  I told him I couldn't pay him.  He waved it off and said "no no no pay, just to help."  then we laughed about the milkweeds and my "little friend" the spade I was digging them up with and how there was nothing to mow because of the long drought.  Then we said good night and I thanked them for their kindness, telling them it was a great blessing to me to have their help.  I also vowed to find a way to help them out somehow.

This is the second time a stranger has come to my aid when I've been working outside.   My neighbors rarely speak, and when they do, it's a brief "how are you" or a comment about how nice my pansies look.  

I am grateful that Dr. Landrum of the Spring Branch Independent School District decided back in the early 60s that we should be taught Spanish.   Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to hold much of a conversation with this couple.  I look forward to seeing them, and my other yard-made friend, again.  Though not neighbors, they are certainly more neighborly people than the ones who live around me!





 


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