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The waving, grinning Liberty Tax employees, like Marie Cecil on Route 3, bring a smile to one reader's face.
Today's column is all grins.
Gregg Holmes of King George County is one to whom nature is a balm. His grin comes "every time I see the Rappahannock River," he said.
"What a living beauty she is. Her tides, her fury, her peace, the magnificence. What a treasure," he added.
Wayne Humphries, who lives at Lake Anna, gets a "smile of peace and contentment" from "living on 13 acres surrounded by forest and watching all the different wildlife we've lived with for the past 30 years."
Elizabeth White of Spotsylvania County also gets a kick out of nature. That's why she delights in banks of blooming lilies along country roads in summer and the hillside beside the railroad tracks downtown, as well as a patch of purple crocus on the edge of her garden and "a loved golden retriever's soft nose on my knee."
Lou Cubbage of Culpeper gets a kick out of the Liberty Tax guys and gals who make her day "with their green dress, hat and sign." She added, "I love to pass them waving and dancing. It was a great idea."
Susan Wyndham of Spotsylvania is grateful for the kindness shown by strangers when her husband, who uses a wheelchair, drives himself somewhere, often to run an errand.
"He will park and ask someone to help get the wheelchair out of the trunk," she said, "or ask a store employee."
She noted that he's never been turned down, with most people going the extra mile by "making sure he's in the wheelchair before they leave him, or helping to push or telling him to ask for help when he's ready to leave."
Wyndham added, "He comes home in the best mood because of the helpful people in our town."
Becky Hubbard of Stafford County has one simple thing that makes her smile: the guys who visit in the UPS trucks.
"They are the friendliest, most upbeat workers anywhere!" she said.
Susan Evans of North Stafford said the staff at Stafford Hospital, where she spent several days earlier this year, lifted her spirits.
"Everyone--the nurses, technicians, lab folks, respiratory therapy, housekeeping and food service--went out of their way to be cheerful and helpful and never forgot to ask if there was anything they could do for me," she said.
She noted that many hospital patients forget they aren't the only people the staff are dealing with.
"A little patience on your part and a lot of genuine smiles on their parts lead to happier patients," she said.
Christine Cushing of Bowling Green said she gets joy from "getting to listen to bluegrass music from two local bands called Jerusalem Ridge and Milford Station" and from "friends who are always there for me, no matter what."
Steve Garnett of Fredericksburg said his day is brightened by people who have progressive thoughts about helping develop a vibrant downtown. He'd like to see "four or five blocks of a bricked pedestrian mall downtown," with vehicle access only for deliveries and emergency equipment.
"Other events like Oktoberfest would also be a boon to the local economy," he added.
Johnson Maxey of Fredericksburg is gratified that as he walks through Fredericksburg and sections of Stafford County, people ask him directions to particular streets or businesses, "probably because they deem me readily available." Because of that, Maxey said, he's "very happy to have the opportunity to help them."
That's all for this year's Gripes & Grins.
Thanks to all who submitted their lists.
I'll be back to ask for another round in that cruelest month of the year: February.
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415