What is kindness?

Killing them with kindness is this week’s Writing Prompt from the Daily Post.

But what is kindness?

Having been a Girl Guide I grew up in a culture of helping people and being courteous.  Courtesy is not mentioned much nowadays.  It is old-fashioned good manners.  However I was grown-up, married and with children of my own before I really began to think about kindness.

I had a friend, who often used the word, “kind”.

It made me think.  I decided I was not a particularly kind person.  About a quarter of a century later, I wonder how to describe kindness.

It seems to be somewhere between consideration for others and love.  I try to make a habit of being kind to other people.

Now my hair is turning grey, I find more strangers are kind to me.  Sometimes I am offered a seat on the London underground.  This is well-known as a place where people do not speak to each other and do not make eye-contact.  Once on the underground someone pointed out to me that my backpack was unfastened and offered to fasten it for me.  (I was holding the handle of my trolley case in one hand and the handrail with the other!)

On another trip across London on a very crowded tube train a young man offered me a seat, which I accepted. However, I could see another passenger, considerably older than I was, standing too far away to reach my seat.  When the passenger sitting next to me left the train, I signalled to the older person and moved up one seat so that he could have mine.  Unusually we got talking.  (It is possible that he had noticed my luggage included a carrier bag from a local shop.)

It turned out that we had travelled to London on the same two trains and knew some of the same people and places.  It is a small world.

I think this is an example of spreading a little kindness.  Someone was kind to me; then I passed kindness on to someone else.  I am aware that people are not always ready to accept help and it is possible to be well-meaning, but irritating.

How would you define kindness?



My annual garden survey

Every year of 31st March I walk around our garden and make a list of all the plants in flower or with flower buds.

This year I have made a table of the surveys for the last five years. It is interesting to note the variations from year to year. Spring 2010 followed a long, cold winter, with snow falling on 31 March.

March 2013 was very cold, delaying the flowering season.

The most recent winter was very wet, but rather mild. As a result new species appear on my list.

Y indicates that Yes, a species is in flower.  Bud and over need no explanation.

Plant 31 March 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Snowed on day Cold March Wet winter
anemone Bud
bluebell Bud
comfrey Y Y Y
crocus Y Over Over Y Over
daffodil Y Y
elephant’s ear Y Y Y
flowering currant Y Y Y
giant grape hyacinth Y Y Y Y
grape hyacinth Y Y Y Y
heather Y
honesty Y
hyacinth Y Y Y Y
miniature narcissus Y Y Y Y Y
narcissus Y Y Y
pansy Y Bud
periwinkle Y Y Y Y
pink saxifrage Y
polyanthus Y Y
primrose Y Y Y Y
primula denticulata Y Y Y Y Y
purple hebe Y
rosemary Y
saxifrage (red) Y Y
scilla Y Y Y
skimmia Y
snowdrop Over Over Over Y Over
tulip Y Y Bud
tulipa tarda Y Bud
wallflower Y Bud Y Y Y
winter jasmine Y Over Over Over Over

Elephant’s ears are Bergenia – their leaves are very large, hence the common name.

Giant grape hyacinths are Puschkinia scilloides or a similar plant.  (Not grape hyacinths at all and more like Scilla.  This is how wrong information is passed on!)

A few years ago a neighbour offered us some red lilies, which had been thriving in his garden.  We like lilies and were happy to accept the offered plants.  The bulbs and leaves looked rather suspicious to me.  We planted them and now have a good few clumps of crocosmia “Lucifer”.  It seems to be a case of “the devil being in the detail” – intentional pun!

I am linking to this week’s Writing challenge about time travel.  I have been able to use my records to remind myself of years gone by.  (My records go back for longer than 5 years, but for the purposes of this post 5 years gave a range if weather conditions and enough data to be going on with.)



Write from the start

I remember a sugar mouse with string for a tail. It was far too pretty to eat!  Now was it white or was it pink?

In the end Mum talked me into eating it. I think she was tired of seeing it lying around gathering dust – or perhaps it was wrapped and the wrapper was dusty, I don’t remember.

I had been given it at school as a reward for a piece of writing I had done. As far as I remember, we had been read a story and asked to write it down from memory. I have only the vaguest recollection of this episode – I was about six years old. As far as I remember it was a story with a happy outcome and the final line was, “What a good thing!”

Aged ten years I persuaded a friend to produce more than one issue (but only a single copy) of a magazine for our school. We raided other publications for nature stories, made up our own puzzles and in those days long before computers did our cutting and pasting with scissors and glue. At that time my favourite subjects were English and nature study.

Somehow English and writing became a means to an end as I learned other subjects at my next school. There was one girl in our class, who excelled at English. I never got the hang of what was required to be a top student in English Language or Literature.

It didn’t prevent me from writing for other subjects and in other situations. Now I write blog posts, book reviews, emails and occasional poems among other things.

The Weekly writing prompt, which I used for this post is here.