MyStoryYourStory Patty M., are those my flowers in your garden? Paula Damon Pat M., or Patty as we came to know her, was an energetic outgoing newcomer to the neighborhood. She easily made friends and could talk to anyone about her home state of Texas and, of course, flowerbeds. It is not easy moving to South Dakota from as far away as Texas. Patty overcame any assimilations issues by hollering, â�?�?Hey, there! How yaâ�?�?ll doing?â�? to locals and strangers. She also had a strange habit of knocking on doors, asking for handouts. No not money or food. She wanted what was in our flowerbeds. To be perfectly accurate, Patty was desirous of every type of flower in every garden up and down our street. In early spring, after new life had already put winter in its place, Patty would begin taking inventory of who had what. Later, as autumn eased in, she would go door-to-door to see who was willing to offer up a sample of perennials. With her big sense of neighborliness, co-mingled with a large smattering of courage, she had no problem cheerily ringing doorbells or heavily knocking on doors to see if she could have some of those irises, daffodils, day lilies, hollyhocks, lilies of the valley, violets, cannas, mums, hostas and the like. She did not ask for one or the other. No, she wanted all of the above. Patty had an air of confidence in South Dakotan generosity. She was not into bartering. Offering nothing in exchange for the flora she was after was not a problem for Patty. All she wanted was what others had. Over the years, I watched her travel optimistically from garden-to-garden and then haul away armfuls of daisies, pocketfuls of poppy seeds and handfuls of tulip bulbs. Eventually, I could see some of everybodyâ�?�?s garden in what had become Pattyâ�?�?s flourishing flowerbeds. By and by her garden flourished. You could say that she was successful in her pursuits. Back then, I struggled with Pattyâ�?�?s bravado and her enlarged sense of entitlement. She has since moved away. In recent years, as I lust after velvety wild roses and daisies in gardens down the street, I worry that I am becoming more like her. If I were to take after Patty, my approach would be, well, more honorable. Want some of my day lilies for an equal amount of your primrose? Swap peonies for poppies? Would you trade that Sweet William for my yellow iris? How about my lilacs for your lavender? My mums for your yarrow. For years, I thought Patty was excessively presumptuous the way she asked and received, sought and found, knocked and the doors opened for her. Now, I am not so sure. A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place in Iowa Press Women and National Federation of Press Women competitions. Damonâ�?�?s columns took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 and 2008 Communications Contests. For more information, e-mail paulada 2008�?© Paula Damon

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