August 2, 2004
Post Office Rose
by Linda Hoag
The post office in South Pasadena, California, is a surprisingly pleasant place. Although the building is handsome, and the tree-lined property is attractive, what sets this branch apart are the many vases of roses which bedeck the work areas of the postal clerks.
The roses are varied, both in shape and color, with the homegrown exuberance that commercial florists' arrangements can never duplicate. For years I have been coming to South Pasadena, even though there are two other branches which are closer to my home. I'd always wondered where the roses came from, but last weekend I had the opportunity to find out.
When I entered the post office, I saw a tiny woman deftly arranging the flowers in vases, using the ledge where one could stamp a letter or pick up an insurance form. At her feet were two paper shopping bags, filled with flowers and tools. Although she walked with a cane, she carefully carried each vase to its place on the counter, and chatted briefly with each clerk in turn.
Curious, I introduced myself, and asked her if she grew the roses as well as arranged them. Yes, she replied smiling, she was also the president, vice president and secretary of this endeavor:
Her name is Miriam C. Spaulding and she has brought her own homegrown roses to the post office for twelve years. She is known locally as The Rose Lady. Shyly she mentions that other people have told her that they go out of their way to visit this branch because of the flowers. She views her service to the community as nothing special, just a habit she began when she worked nearby. I ask her if she has other habits like this. Yes, she also likes to send what she calls "rosey notes." These are cards she sends to thank people who have done their jobs well. She considers gratitude the "most needed" of human feelings.
I thanked Miriam for her time and her flowers, and, as I left, I saw her use the tip of her cane to gather together a few rose petals which had fallen on the floor. She placed the petals and a few clippings into her paper bags, leaving no tracks.
Linda Hoag is an editorial board member for Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living and counselor for college students in the arts in Los Angeles, CA.
"If we live a life contributing to others in our present circumstances, then our lives will blossom, and our shoulders will straighten. When we become a person needed by others there comes real significance to our living. When our existence is not useful to others we shrink into ourselves."
-Takehisa Kora, M.D.