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Another Day in the Country

Simple reciprocity

© Another Day in the Country

Don’t you just love that word, “reciprocity?”

If we didn’t know what the word meant, a clue would be the first half of the utterance which sounds a little like a “recipe” for something good to happen.

At the exercise spot in Abilene there are several gentlemen older than 90 that make their appearance every morning — my friend Gordon used to be one of them. Once the pandemic hit, he’s chosen to stay closer to home; and I miss hearing him sing “Ramona, when day is done I hear your call…” when I walk in the door.

When Paul came in the door, with a smile in his eyes behind the mask, he’d stop where we were having coffee and offer Gordon a piece of candy along with the “joke of the day.”

We all chuckled. If he didn’t have a joke, then he might recite a poem of his own making. Then he’d sneak Gordon, his peer, that little wrapped candy and head on over to exercise.

Then there’s Bob who usually arrives to work out around 11 and he always stops and asks, “So how are things in Ramona?”

I struggle to find real answers other than “Slow,” or “Quieter than usual.” Depending on the weather, I sometimes can offer, “We didn’t get rain, did you?” or “Only a skiff of snow for us!”

Bob doesn’t give out candy or recite poems but he gives something to the people he comes across — his gentle smile, the fact that he pauses to inquire, his momentary attention, “Well you have a good day,” he says with a slight nod and he begins walking the track.

A new lady is pedaling away on the exercise bike one over from mine. I smile.

“I just finished boxing!” she exalts. “I love it! If someone had told me 20 years ago I’d be boxing, I wouldn’t have believed them. You should try it.”

I might. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Doug, another regular, is way younger than I am, retired, gives anyone within hearing stories about local news spanning at least 50 years and sports statistics going back almost that far.

Even when his conversation isn’t directed at me, I learn interesting things.

I don’t have many stories to give back, having limited history with either farmers or football. Maybe what I give back to this historian is listening, asking questions. I’m the audience, even if I’m far enough away to have a balcony seat.

With the COVID-induced sparser crowd on Tuesday and Thursday morning, Paul stopped at my bike handlebars with a joke yesterday. (Eat your heart out, Gordie, when you read this. You weren’t here so I got the candy this time!)

Once in awhile I cross paths with Nancy. I call her the Peanut Brittle Lady since she gave me this nifty recipe and even invited me to her house to watch her make brittle in the microwave. It’s become a staple treat to make at Christmas.

These are such small social niceties from people I’ll probably never get to really know since I live in Ramona — not Abilene. We have very little in common other than appearing at the gym to exercise on the same day of the week at the same time. It isn’t much contact, really, but it’s pleasant. It’s kind. They are interesting, good, people and I find myself refreshed, more optimistic for having brushed by them during my day.

Searching for ways to reciprocate, sometimes I bring eggs to give away. When I gave a dozen to Bob awhile back, he was intrigued by the different colored eggs.

“So, am I,” I told him, “I’m like a little kid gathering Easter Eggs.”

He told me he was going to share them with his daughter-in-law.

Such simple transactions, a smile, a nod, a minute of your time, a snippet of a song, a recipe shared, a little enthusiasm, an interesting story, a piece of candy, a bit of grace, a kind word, and I get to reciprocate, now and then, with blue eggs for your breakfast which are guaranteed to brighten any day in the country.

Last modified April 1, 2021

 

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