In general, I find volunteerism to be a good thing.  Our armed forces run on it.  Schools, libraries, museums can do more because of volunteers.  People in hospitals get magazines, flowers, blood,  and sometimes organs because of people who volunteer. Disasters are mitigated by the Red Cross volunteers who pass out water, erect shelters, bring clothing, and comfort.  I recommend that every person volunteer at least once in their lifetime.  There is a special sense of fulfillment when the person you are helping  smiles, pushes back from the table and pats their belly, otherwise indicates that their need is relieved.


There is another sort of volunteerism that occurs in the garden.  Sometimes it is delightful, as yesterday when I discovered a hardy little pansy volunteer from the prior year, nestled among this year's nasturtiums.  Tears filled my eyes when I saw the foot tall volunteer pine from a cone off one the trees we had to cut down a couple of years ago.  Nestled up against the stump of its momma, it survived mowings and drought to make itself tall enough to be noticed this year.


Sometimes it's annoying, like the 100 sq feet of my yard that is covered with volunteers from an airplane plant that I brought home from Dallas over 20 years ago in a hanging basket.  At sometime, that basket fell to the ground, from wind or the branch breaking, or animal activity and it went unnoticed until we saw all its offspring covering that corner of the yard.  It's actually pretty, but it is neither a native plant nor edible.  So now, I am in the process of digging those babies up and putting them in pots to be offered for sale at our next yard sale.


Finally, there is the ugly, dangerous kind of volunteering.  The volunteering of information about other people.  I have at least one neighbor who will volunteer to almost anyone everything she knows about another neighbor.  It's called gossip, and the last time she bent my ear about someone I didn't even know, she offered information about their daily routine that, had I been a robber, I would have known exactly when to break into their house.  Now her purpose, of course, is to get information out of the listener about them that she can pass onto others.  I have purposely fed her false information to see how long it would take to work its way through the neighborhood network back to me.  Three weeks, and I hardly talk to any of my neighbors!  When new neighbors move in, I usually volunteer to them that she's a gossip.  Across the street, two doors down, there is a sign "Sale Pending" I hope it's it is the nice young couple who inquired about it a couple of months back, when it was being gutted.  To me it's the Reasoners' house, because that's who lived there when I was growing up.  None of the people who lived in it since stayed very long.  Whoever it is, I can bet my neighbor, who never walks for exercise, will be at their door volunteering information about all the other people on our block, including me, within days.  I might volunteer them an airplane plant!
 


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