You see that basket isn’t just a basket full of apples, it means so much more than that. That basket represents a friendship based on trust, respect, valuing each other and valuing the homegrown produce that we share. You can’t put a price on that nor can it be taken for granted.
The baskets of home grown fruit and vegetables that I take over to our neighbours, the buckets full of fruit and vegetables they have left on our doorstep, the colander full of fruit that I empty on their kitchen bench and then return home with the same colander full of lemons or apples or berries from their garden. The exchanges go back and forth depending on the season, the glut, what one of us grows and the other doesn’t.
I can safely say neither household expects anything from the other but each gives freely because we want to. Little bunches of herbs or bay leaves, a bunch of carrots, seeds from flowers, beautiful kifler potatoes the best we have ever tasted, saving the country newspaper or magazines for each other.
It may be called old fashioned but swapping produce or doing something for someone that they aren’t able to do at that given time is becoming lost in this new culture of me me me and I know many people don’t value it or understand the meaning of it or take it as something they are entitled to (I won’t bore you with the dull, insulting comments I have received in the past when I have offered someone something homegrown because they have taken an interest in it.)
But maybe just maybe if we start having these conversations at the dinner table about establishing a sense of goodwill, trust and recognising that everyones time is valuable, that home grown fruit and vegetables are valuable, that giving is as valuable for us as it is for the recipient, than maybe the cultural mindset might move away from the ‘what can I get for nothing out of you’ mindset.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be carrying over to my neighbour armfuls of quinces, some she will be make into Quince Paste that in turn will be given to her family. I can see and understand the joy this brings that even though my neighbour lives on the opposite side of the country to some of her grandchildren she can make them something that they love eating and for me that is heartwarming to be able to give her the quinces.
You see I think that all of us do better when we know better, non of us are perfect, I think that often people don’t realise the impact that they have (good or bad!) I think that all of us want to feel a part of something that is bigger than us, some people call it community, some people call it family, some people identify it as a sense of belonging to a place.
But unfortunately giving, or sharing or being respectful of someone’s time or helping someone has started to be seen as a weakness when in fact it is actually a strength. And we are so lucky to have the neighbours that we have.
April 13, 2019