In a village called Zalipie, on the flat plains of the lower Polish farmlands, we experienced a small, but beautiful moment that will forever remain in my memory.
A kindly old lady, while watering her plants, saw that we were wandering around the village, and speaking no English, she came to her gate and simply gestured that we should follow her into her home.
Her house was, like all the others, adorned with painted flowers - wreathed above the windows, and all along the walls. But inside that tiny space, where the ceiling was so low it almost brushed the top of Oliver's head, the flowers burst into a huge array: on every surface, every bowl and spoon, every couch and cloth, every corner, there bloomed some gorgeous element of spring! I was taken aback, having felt a little apprehensive at following this stranger indoors. All my doubt melted away, and I just stood there gazing around me, mouth open...
She spoke to us in Polish, explaining it all in words we couldn't understand. Her smile, and her gestures told us so much more. She offered us food: boiled eggs and mash, then took us back outside to show us the barn and her chickens. Like everything else, the barn was painted with bright flowers, that seemed to make her smile even as she looked at them on that grey winter day.
She was a flower ~ a bright sunflower, with shining face and waving hands. And, just by being so sweet and joyful, she reminded me, a passing stranger on the meadow lane, to smile.