Smiles From Strangers

Brown's Island from the bridge over to the island, taken two years ago today.  Located in Richmond, Virginia.  The photo is processed using Topaz labs Impressions.
Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia. The photo is processed with a colored pencil effect using Topaz Labs Impressions.

I’m always surprised when strangers smile at me, even more so when they say niceties such as “how are you today?”.

It happened again the other day.  I wasn’t feeling too good and I had a tough morning working on a sticky problem.  I went for my walk during lunch, really wrapped up in my head.  I mean, really wrapped up.  I wasn’t paying attention to who was around me, what the James River looked like, or even how nice it was to just be outside.

People kept giving me big smiles!  They wanted me to see them, acknowledge them, and smile back!  I’m usually the one giving out smiles to strangers, so it was a bit weird for me to be receiving unsolicited smiles.

It was so nice.  So very, very nice.  I straightened up my shoulders, tilted my head up from watching the ground, and got rid of the scowl on my face.  If people wanted to be nice to me, I was going to play my part and be nice back!

I came back from my walk in a much better mood and not just from the exercise.  People going out of their way to simply smile at me as they walked by made a big difference and I was grateful they smiled whether I was really receiving it or not.

It makes me glad for all the time I spend smiling at others and making chit chat with strangers.  It really does improve one’s day!

The photos in today’s post were taken three years ago today from the original bridge going over to Brown’s Island.  I’m looking to the west.  The townhouses in the upper right is an area of Richmond called Oregon Hill, where the laborers used to live.  It was so far from downtown, “you may as well have lived in Oregon”.  The cluster of buildings around the smokestack is where Tredegar Iron Works was during the Civil War.  The National Park Service is in the far building and a Civil War Museum is in the closer building.  Many events are held on Brown’s Island every year, from the Richmond Marathon last weekend to the Folk Festival, skateboarding events, and many types of concerts.

To see an earlier post for a walk around Brown’s Island, click here.  The bridge in today’s photos is fairly new.  To see the pictures from the day it was lifted into place, click here.

Brown's Island from the bridge over to the island, taken two years ago today.  Located in Richmond, Virginia.
Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia.  This photo was processed with a simple pop effect in Topaz Labs Adjust..

Brown's Island Encouragement

dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

17 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I like them both! The pencil effect is very interesting and definitely something I wouldn’t think to do… but I like it. However, I think I would give the slight edge to the second version at the end of the post. Very cool, very interesting. Thanks for sharing it.

    • You’re welcome, Shane! That has been a problem – I do them several different way and then can’t pick a favorite. Topaz has a free 30 day trial if you feel like trying it. They also run sales at times, especially right after Thanksgiving.

  2. Sometimes I get frustrated smiling at people who refuse to smile. This encourages me to keep at it. I love the colored pencil technique on this photo!

    • I agree that it’s frustrating when people don’t smile back and I get a fair amount of that. That particular day though, I was surprised at the people who made sure I noticed them smiling at me! I hadn’t had that happen before, but it sure did improve my day.

      Thanks for the compliment on the picture!

    • Thanks Naomi! A big smile and hug goes back to you also. And it does make me smile whenever you stop by with a comment or put out a new post of your own. I enjoy our friendship and am glad that blogging gives me such a great opportunity to know people such as yourself that I would not otherwise know!

  3. A smile goes a long way, no matter who it comes from. This was such a thoroughly enjoyable, positive post it made me smile. And that is a beautiful shot. :D

  4. I grew up in the city, but did not understand/experience hospitality of strangers until I moved to school in the country – I loved it. I mean it took some time, but I came to love it. It was a small town, and people were “in your business”…but they actually cared. Their concern wasn’t just for gossip sake which is pretty prevalent depending on where you are in the city – if someone notices you at all! I’m glad your day improved!!

    • It is different in a small town. We lived in Sioux City, Iowa for a while and we’re amazed at how friendly people were everywhere we went.

      I was really surprised how much that small gesture improved my mood. It was nice of people to go out of their way to give me a smile and make sure I saw them.


    • There is so much history here! My husband and I have enjoyed checking it out.

      I think you’re right though – people could see I really needed a smile that day. I do think that’s why so many of them went out of their way to smile at me.

  6. I think it depends on the area also. It seemed when living in the city I was always around rude people. I’m not saying that all people in cities are rude. I’m simply saying that the people in the area I was in were rude, perhaps they were caught up in the busy city and stressed out. There were a few nice people here and there. When I first moved out of the city and back into rural life. I couldn’t get over how nice and polite everyone is. I am still getting use to it 5 years later.
    Nice photos of Richmond :)

    • People are usually pretty polite here, but not necessarily friendly. I see a number of the same people every day during my walk and very few of them will acknowledge me or say hi, which is part of why I was so surprised when that happened. We lived in Sioux City, Iowa for a while and were amazed at how friendly people were there.

      Glad you liked the photos!

%d bloggers like this: