People are so warm-hearted

5 January, 2020            People are so warm-hearted

I had an unusually moving experience this week at Five Guys (who even knew?). I described it in a little blurb about it at the bottom of this blog post. 

I’ve worked for decades with people who can’t hike alongside any river, ever, so I’m grateful just to be at the James on Sunday mornings. And even more grateful to have wonderful dogs to accompany me. I took my first “dogs at river” picture this morning at 10:20. We hiked for twenty more minutes before we were standing under this pair of Barred Owls (Strix varia):  

Two Barred Owls near the river earlier today:

I’m grateful for any hike at the river – but I love to get owl pictures. 

I was also fortunate to get this as my first photograph of 2020, at 9:14 AM on New Year’s Day: 

First Red-shouldered hawk of 2020 on New Year’s morning

I chose that owl picture to open this blog post because it is always such a treat. I’ll close out (after a few more pictures) with Mackey and Turner when we first got on the river today  (the 10:20 pictures). 

I don’t love bird feeder pictures because of the “shooting fish in a barrel” sense I get – it’s just too easy. But I see them a lot (feeder birds) and sometimes get images I like. I’ve seen many, many Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) and they photograph well, especially in good light. This isn’t the sort of image you could use in a field guide, but I liked the non-typical quality: 

I’ve never looked at a grackle from that angle. I like this image.

I saw a wasp on a leaf this week. It seems like real, real cold weather for insects to still be around, but then it was warmer earlier in the week. This was kind of fun: 

Late December wasp. Not long for this world I suspect.

This blog is old – I began it in March of 2011. This is the first picture I ever posted, on March 3, 2011, on a blog post unimaginatively titled Mackey and Roux at the river this morning

Mackey and Roux, Pony Pasture, March, 2011:

Roux belonged to my old friend Alex but neither of them live here now. That picture up there was in March. I took this in the same spot at 12:20 today: 

Same river, same rocks, one of the same dogs, nine years later:

This was the first picture I took this morning, about ten or fifteen minutes hike upstream from the previous picture: 

Mackey and Turner when we first got to the river today (10:20):

Enjoy this story! Have a great week! Come back next week! 

All best, 


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People are so warm-hearted

Six years ago this month I wrote a blog post about a guy I’ve worked with for over twenty years. His name is KD, and you can see that 2014 blog post here if you’ve never seen it: smile  This is a picture of him at Starbucks Friday afternoon: 

KD at Starbucks Friday. Note the hoodie zipper and coat zipper then read this story:

He is all about Five Guys (so am I), and we’ve eaten lunch there for years. People know us at Five Guys – we’re greeted warmly every time we arrive. We know lots of the other customers too. He has to take a pill before he eats, and Friday he accidentally dropped it. It’s barely larger than a grain of rice, and I couldn’t see it anywhere. The guy I work with started looking too, but not enthusiastically. I was looking here and I was looking there but without success. A man and his wife and two young daughters were sitting next to us and saw what happened. They asked us to describe it, then they got up from their seats and started looking too. 

Five Guys at lunchtime is a busy place and it’s a random sample. I know a highly regarded neurosurgeon who eats there with his young son, and construction workers are there at the same time. There are men and women and boys and girls and always a handful of people of indeterminate gender. There are many people who speak Spanish and appear to be from Central or South America, people from India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, it’s as broad a spectrum of people as you’re likely to see anywhere in central Virginia. 

People at other tables came over to help, asking for a description of the pill, moving tables, looking under drink machines, it was like a busy hive of ants. I am not exaggerating – half the people in Five Guys at lunch hour got up from their tables to help us. All strangers, all working together to help out other strangers, just because it was a nice thing to do. I finally threw up my hands and said “don’t worry, we’ll get another one when we get back to the house.” Someone said “I wonder if it fell inside his coat?” He had a zip up hoodie under his regular zip up jacket (see above). I unzipped the outer jacket and had no luck. Then I unzipped his hoodie and the prodigal pill dropped into his lap. 

KD didn’t care – he just took his pill. Things are always all good with him. But that was a perfect representative sample of America in 2020 right there. The same America that, at least according to some respected sources has “stopped being great.” 

There was an article on BBC News a year ago called “The time when America stopped being great.” I’ve heard others imply America is less great than it once was. You know what happens in great countries? Strangers drop what they’re doing to help  other strangers, just because people are nice. America may be as great as it’s ever been. To my mind it’s greater than it’s ever been. If history is any guide, next week it’ll be even better. 

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About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, disability, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to People are so warm-hearted

  1. Jackie says:

    Great to hear there are still good people in the World!

  2. Wilma says:

    Jay you need to publish this in the Washington Post PLEASE!
    It’s a story to be read by more than just us Newfaze followers!!!
    So well worded and such a heart warming scene.
    👍🏼Laurie (Wilma)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Laurie! I was grateful to be there to witness it. It was among the more heart warming scenes it’s ever been my privilege to witness. I’ll bet stuff like that happens every day! It just never makes it to the newspaper. SMH.

      Have an excellent week,


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