Her heart started pounding as she stared at the visitor outside. It was not something that she had seen coming or was even prepared for. But she had been wondering about it for weeks, puzzled by the identity of whoever was filling her doorstep with flowers. Now it was right in front of her and she froze for a moment. But she knew she had to get proof of the encounter--or no one would believe her.
It had only been a few months since Rosie had moved to that house. She had recently graduated from university in Oxford and moved in with her parents for a while. But she didn’t feel comfortable in her childhood home anymore, so she decided to go off on her own. She and a friend moved together to a little neighborhood near Bristol. Her street was calm and quiet--but there was more to it than met the eye.
Rosie moved to her new house in the middle of winter, which didn’t make it easy for her and her roommate to socialize with their new neighbors. Still, everyone she met was really friendly and she felt quite welcome. She looked forward to spring and summer when she’d be able to go to neighborhood parties and make more friends. And, indeed, when spring finally came it did bring something new--just not what Rosie was expecting.
One day, Rosie was outside on the back deck of her little house. That’s when she noticed a couple of pink flowers strewn all over the deck. She was happy to see flowers blossoming already, although she was curious as to where they had come from. She didn’t keep that kind of flower in her garden, and none of her adjacent neighbors did either. She thought the wind might have blown them there, but it hadn’t been windy lately. She later forgot about it--but not for long.
A couple of days later, Rosie noticed there were a few more pink flowers on her deck. It couldn’t just be a coincidence. She stepped outside and peeked over her neighbors’ decks, but couldn’t see any of the same flowers. She became more intrigued and told her roommate about it, who joked that she saw the neighbor’s cat with a flower in her mouth. But Rosie was starting to take this more seriously. Could somebody be leaving flowers on their deck on purpose?
University of Oxford
It was tough to narrow down the possible suspects because of the way Rosie’s street was laid out. "We live on a street of terraced houses that backs onto another street of terraced houses with a kind of garden corridor between,” she explains. That meant that most of her neighbors had easy access to her back deck. So she started racking her brain to remember all the people she had met there since moving in.
Even after making a list of all the neighbors she’d met since moving there, Rosie still wasn’t any closer to finding out who was leaving flowers on her back deck. Flowers are usually a symbol of love, which meant that whoever was responsible probably had a secret crush on her or her roommate. She felt flattered, but at the same time, a little unnerved--why couldn’t they just knock on the door and introduce themselves? Weeks passed and the flowers kept coming. Then one day, the truth finally came out.
One afternoon, Rosie was cooking in the kitchen, which overlooks the back of the house. Then she looked out the window and spotted the neighbor’s cat, Willow, who was making her way toward her deck. This wasn’t unusual, as Willow was a friendly cat and loved to hang out with everyone in the neighborhood. But Rosie’s mouth dropped to the floor when she saw what Willow was carrying in her mouth.
Willow was making her way onto Rosie’s deck with a pink flower in her mouth. Rosie couldn’t believe it and didn’t think anyone else would, so she ran to get her phone to record. "I was so excited that I went to film it because she's so cute and I'd never seen a cat ever bring back anything but dead animals before," she says. That said, it looks like Willow is quite a special cat.
After she first moved in, Rosie met Willow well before she met most of her other neighbors. One day, as she was walking past the glass door, she noticed Willow sitting outside, meowing incessantly. Rosie loves cats, so she opened the door to greet her. Willow strutted inside and made herself right at home. And soon Rosie learned this wasn’t unusual.
"Willow rules over about six of the gardens, and I'm pretty sure she gets fed by everyone because she's very difficult to say no to,” says Rosie. As she gradually met her new neighbors, they all told her similar stories of Willow making her way inside their houses for a cat nap. For Rosie, this became an opportunity to really settle into her new home.
After spending a good chunk of her adult life at university, Rosie was finding it difficult to adjust to the reality of not being a student anymore. And even though the town, the neighbors, and her roommate were great, she still felt like something was missing. Then she learned about Willow, and her heart lit up. She’d had several cats back in Oxford, and she missed them terribly. Perhaps Willow could fill that void.
Rosie started buying cat food and treats to have on hand whenever Willow visited. She also saved all the cardboard boxes from packages she got, knowing how much cats love to sit in them. Her strategy worked, and soon she and Willow became fast friends. It really was the missing piece in Rosie’s life. And it seemed that Willow knew it.
Rosie was extremely grateful for having Willow in her life. But she knew that Willow had many other human friends. Aside from her owners, Rosie knew everyone in the neighborhood loved Willow and welcomed her into their homes. Rosie had no reason to think she was special--nor did she expect to be. So when she saw Willow bringing her flowers, she couldn’t contain her emotion.
As far as Rosie knew, none of her other neighbors had been the recipients of flowers from Willow that spring. Then she found out something even more incredible: the pink flowers Willow was gifting her came from her owners’ garden! "She clearly likes us because she steals flowers from [her owners] and leaves them on our deck,” Rosie explained. What a thoughtful little feline!