Paeony (By Cliff Rosbotham)

“The immortality of Flowers must enrich our own, and we certainly should resent a Redemption that excluded them—”

Emily Dickinson in a letter to Mrs. Sarah Tuckerman, 1877

If you have a garden what flowers do you grow? When you walk in the park which flowers catch your eye?

1) World In Pictures

Two boys explore the blossoming trees of the Royal Horticultural Society garden in Wisley, Surrey. Traditionally, the first day of spring falls on the vernal equinox, which this year took place at 23.21 on Sunday. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

Sana’a,Yemen: A Yemeni girl stands among female anti-government demonstrators attending noon prayers (Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Rikuzentakata: Owada Yuna carries her three-year-old sister as she searches for names of missing friends at a shelter (Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Japan Earthquake Aftermath: A Panda embraces a policeman’s leg for sympathy after the destruction that swiped everything in a city

2) From the “People Making A Difference” series in the Christian Science Monitor.

David Shirkey poses in Salem, Mass., with some of the items he hopes to ship to Poland. His modest philanthropic work – he spends a lot of his own money – began with his impulsive offer to help an ex-girlfriends mother.

Excerpts from the article by David Clark Scott – http://tinyurl.com/6drwe79

“David Shirkey doesn’t fit the stereotype of a philanthropist. He’s “no saint,” he says. He doesn’t have deep pockets or belong to a group that does charitable work.

Most days, you’ll find him dressed in a white apron, perhaps carving 200 kissing birds out of kiwi fruit for a wedding reception at the Essex Conference Center & Retreat, in Essex, Mass., where he’s the chef.

But once a year, he also puts smiles on the faces of disabled children in Poland.

Since 2005, Mr. Shirkey has been quietly shipping wheelchairs, crutches, and toys to five or six Polish kids a year.

But his one-man, do-it-yourself charity didn’t start by helping children, Shirkey says with a Boston accent. It all began with a conversation with an ex-girlfriend at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Beata Kelson is Polish, and in 2004 she was earning $140 a week as an au pair in Massachusetts. Her mother in Poland needed a new wooden leg. It was going to cost 6,000 zloty (about $2,000).

“At first, I thought she was pulling my leg,” Shirkey says. “‘Does anybody still use wooden legs?’ I thought.”

Then he blurted out, “Maybe I can help.”

It took months of looking on eBay and making phone calls before Shirkey persuaded a group, the Limbs for Life Foundation in Oklahoma City, to donate an artificial leg that might fit this 50-something woman in Poland.

Shirkey was already planning to fly to Poland, so he decided to deliver the leg in person. It was a 13-hour train ride to the village of Objazda. Shirkey isn’t Polish, doesn’t speak the language, and Berta couldn’t go. So he traveled with a Polish friend, whom he had met in the kitchen of a US summer camp a few years earlier.

It was nearly Christmas, so Shirkey wrapped the prosthetic up as a present.

“Her hands were shaking as she opened it. Then she just stared at the aluminum shaft like it was a bad joke. It wasn’t wooden. It wasn’t sturdy-looking.

“It didn’t even look like a leg,” recalls Shirkey. “Once we showed her how it worked, however, she started crying. ‘I’m too old for this! Why would you do this for me? How was this possible?’ ”

“Anything is possible in America if you work at it,” Shirkey told her.

It took another two years – and visits to three doctors – to finally get the leg properly fitted. But Ms. Kelson says her mother now says that she has had three lives: her life before the car accident; life with a 50-pound wooden leg (for 30 years she seldom left the house); and life with her new high-tech prosthetic.

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