Outside my apartment door recently, I found a glass plate covered by an inverted pyrex bowl; inside was a slice of a four layer torte, with a little fork. The card read “It’s probably better thawed out. (me too…).”
It was from my neighbor Matthew Sporzynski, a paper artist whom we’ve blogged; he likes to leave surprises for his friends, and has left quite a few for me: huge bouquets of flowers (a moment-past-their-prime, rescued from a florist friend), a little plastic box of hilarious labels (below), the amazing “hope you feel better” gift of a couple of months ago, and the torte, made by his mom: layers of complex flavors: nuts, coffee, apricot jam, cocoa, with an underlacing of a liqueur.
I’ve left Matthew things too, in a shopping bag right outside his door to reciprocate the gesture: some excellent extra-virgin olive oil, a book of type faces I thought he’d like, a little jar of Apricots in Cardamom Syrup held back from a batch I made for a dinner party. Another neighbor, who lived in the top floor penthouse where he kept a rose garden, occasionally left me a vase with fragrant heirloom roses.
The premise of a little gift left secretly outside of the door or on a porch of a friend is a great one.
It can be any little thing: a portion of cookies you might have just made or bought, or a book you’ve come across that is right up your neighbor’s alley, some perfect of-the-season farmer’s market treasure like tomatoes, a bunch of lemon verbena (for tea), shell peas…ideas that flow easily out of the moment, improvised. It says “I’m thinking of you, or I’d thought you’d like this…” in a surprising way, evoking connection to a bigger world: a community of neighbors.
Check out Matthew’s work here.