It’s Sunday evening, maybe around 7:00 or 7:30 pm, and the light is just beginning to take on that evening glow. I’m sitting at my table, trying to get organized for the coming week, when a car slowly drives up the driveway. We live outside of our small town, at the top of a hill up a fairly long driveway, and I’m not expecting anyone. Kurt just left to go to a meeting a few minutes ago. Who is this?
I’m sorry to say, but I go straight to suspicious. Last week on our town’s Facebook page, someone reported a break in, right down the road. There’s been a lot of community chatter about people stopping by, unsolicited, strange cars circling areas, etc.
Who’s in this car? Is it a coincidence that they are pulling up now, right after Kurt left? Are they scoping out the house? Or are they going to try to sell me something? Try to convert me? Why are they here?
I open the door hesitantly, well aware that I’m the only one home. I walk outside and eye a man and woman who are getting out of their SUV. The woman approaches first with a big smile. “Hi!” she calls, cheerfully. The man hangs back, smiling but silent.
I have no idea who they are.
“Hi,” I say. I wait but she just continues to smile at me and walks closer. “Can I help you?” I finally ask.
“Well, I noticed you have those beautiful blue flowers going up your hill. I wonder if you’d mind if I took some,” she asks.
“Oh,” I pause for a second, recalibrating. “Sure, that’s fine,” I say, but then the ugly, doubtful part of me jumps in again. In my mind, I see my beautiful blue hillside ransacked and hear her saying, “Well, you said I could take some.” Maybe I should clarify.
“Um, how much did you want to take?”
“Oh, just a small clump to put by my bunny’s cage,” she says. This woman is clearly not a threat.
“Ok. You’re welcome to take some,” I say.
“Thanks so much,” she says. She and the man turn to walk back to the car.
“By the way, they’re called Siberian Squill, or Scilla,” I call after them.
“Thanks,” she says again, turning back toward me. “I’d noticed them a couple of times and thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if I just took a small bunch from down near the road. They’re so beautiful.”
“They really are, aren’t they?” I say. “Help yourself.”
They get back in their car, wave and then turn around, clearly taking care to avoid driving on the grass. They disappear down the driveway.
I’ve been thinking about this encounter a lot, feeling unsettled by it. Even once they had shared their purpose, I had been cool and reserved. I kick myself now for being wary, instead of warm and welcoming. What has happened to me? I didn’t introduce myself to them or ask if they were neighbors. I didn’t mention how often I’ve wondered who planted the scilla bulbs and when. I didn’t mention how we noticed their sweet scent perfuming the air just yesterday. I missed an opportunity to connect. I realize now that I’d chosen my stance and then I had a hard time shifting it.
But when did wary become my “go to” stance? When did I begin to doubt people and question their intentions? When did I become so suspicious? Is it just me or is it our world? Either way this isn’t the way I want to be in the world. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, but you can be sure I’m still thinking about it.