Sunday, May 13, 2012

Over the Hump Day

Here we are again, on the cusp of another Mother's Day.  In the lexicon of those in the flower business, Mother's Day is a combination of both Christmas and New Year's Eve: Christmas in that one can either receive all one has wished for, or not, and New Year's Eve, because all must be accounted for, the good, the bad, the surprising, the disastrous, the serendipitous and the disappointing.  There is no silver bullet, no Fairy Godmother, and no miraculous recovery after Mother's Day.  Sports analogy time:  the bullpen may earn the save, but there is no chance you'll come back from a 12-zip deficit.  Its the home stretch; finishing is the goal.  You cannot start the game over.  There's no reset.

But there is another goal if you are part of a family business like we are.  On Mother's Day eve, we have been successful if we don't look at the clock Saturday afternoon, leap into our cars, and peel out of the driveway, down the gravel road leaving a cloud of dust and a sigh of relief behind us.  We are family, as the song goes, and we've lived in our work for months, leaving the scene in body, but carrying the anxiety home to bed, sharing our dreams with our aches and pains. During harvest, we work on a single task but dispersed over multiple vehicles and many square miles of field and highway.  In the greenhouse we are compressed into 2.5 acres of plastic, one dining room table and a single grimy office with three computers.  Beginning in March, we spend our hours, seven days a week, pushing from one task to another, all time sensitive, biological deadlines looming, with the added uncertainty of the weather outdoors influencing the environment indoors. Every miscue, whether sins of omission or commission, can have lasting effect on the final bottom line....after Mother's Day. is to return to a sense of proper proportion to wait on our customers Mother's day week.  Here is the couple gently lifting their frail mother onto one of our wheeled hand carts so she can ride through the colorful aisles she has been patronizing for nigh unto twenty years.  This lovely woman used to bring her less sturdy friends out to the greenhouse, several trips during the spring, choosing a couple of pots or so each visit.  Her daughter still plants a sampling of the same flowers her mother always chose; I see these flowers daily all summer long.
Here is another husband and wife, spending a good solid forty five minutes hunting down two geraniums of the perfect shade for the older woman in the car.  'When you are ninety three,' he tells me, ' you don't change your mind.'  Perhaps not, but the mother in the car tells me, 'I've planted red for years and years! I want pink ones for a change!!'  She is wearing a pink sweater shell with just a hint of a sparkle.  I have no problem detecting the spark that keeps her going. Little daughters and sons accompany moms, pushing the hand carts and offering opinions. Often mommy or daddy allows them to choose their own flowers and they handle the pots with all the concentration accorded great grandma's heirloom teapot.   Around 4 or so, the men arrive.  Typically, men purchase tomatoes and peppers, or cucumbers or squash.  But a lost male on Mother's Day eve wants a BIG plant, basket or tub.  They may not get past the first greenhouse they enter if some BIG plant is within reach.  Sorry, guys; I am not making this up.

The gang at Hurst Greenery disperses to their own homes, yards, gardens.  We go 'shopping', examining the flowers on the benches with a gardener's eye, not professional interest.  We still have sales to make; will this flat be a leftover?  Or will some paying customer ask for it the day after it is watered into my yard?  This is an easier decision if the flower in question is slightly flawed, or in an odd sized container.  Carrying coals to Newcastle, the pickups and golf carts groan with their colorful cargo. The moms of the family cherish other garden related goodies, gleaned from deliveries of the week: ceramic pots of exotic hue, quaint metal garden ornaments, pot stickers, trellises, solar lamps....

How can I express the gratitude I feel for these loved ones I see day after day.  For their tolerance, their support, their exertions, their good nature, their sheer persistence and sense of humor whatever the situation.  There is always pain, always disappointment.  Less certain is success or triumph.  We make do with the beauty of our produce, the occasional compliment, and the satisfaction of our team work.

Happy Mother's Day to all my lovely up!

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