Today is my two year anniversary of keeping the cafe flowers . Two years ago I sat and sipped coffee beside one of these enormous cement pots. A dead gardenia bush stuck from it’s center while an array of cigarettes and detritus floated about it. It was appalling.
I went inside at the urging of a waitress I knew and told the manager, Remon– a very friendly, flirty man whom I’d met before–that I was going to the nursery for myself and that I wanted to get flowers for the cafe too. I told him I was going to replant that one pot.
I planted a fiery apricot Chinese Lantern surrounded by various flowers I had no name for. It looked lovely. Customers applauded; I referred them to Remon.
So, I planted another, then all five; then later–a very ambitious undertaking–I dug up a 10 feet long triangle of curbed ground along their side door. A dead begonia, weeds. I pulled up buckets and buckets of cement clods beneath sparse inches of dirt. The cooks hauled them to the dumpster in intervals. It was nearing 100 degrees. We were exhausted.
I imported dirt, mulched, watered, fertilized, then finally, I planted: two French lavenders, rosemary, a gardenia, yarrow, wild grasses and a plethora of yellow, orange, pink and white Gazanias. In the spring I added sunflowers that grew to overlooks one table. It looked wild and lovely and I have fought to keep it that way.
Customers are the enemy. Cigarette butts, gum, lemon wedges from water glasses (wait staff) and various unwanted food pieces. Children pick the flowers–actually, so do adults. And sometimes a random clump of flowers will disappear completely. I have no idea where to. Still, I keep showing up. I water, prune, declutter, fertilize and replant. I treat it like my own garden.
Today, I just buy flowers then give Remon the bill. I bought a new hose, a trolley and watering system replacement parts. I pushed Remon to get a new lawn mower man and table umbrellas. I mess with the watering system. I steam at Remon when any of it has been messed with. And often I can be found deadheading flowers as I sip my morning coffee.
And coffee is what I get in exchange. Depending on who you talk to I am either getting screwed or a great deal. Most days, I think it’s a great deal, because I have a two-trips-a-day coffee habit, minimum. Plus, I like having a place to go to chat. When you work at home there is no water cooler to stand around for gossip. The cafe is my water cooler.
So, today has been two years of cafe gardening. I am their gardener; the cooks call me their “flower lady.”
This day is a good reminder that life is what I make of it. This includes work, relationships and even fun. (All of which I often think aren’t out there for me because I can’t, won’t, don’t see or find them.) But, like my garden, this is a good reminder that my life will take a bit of personal creation. Just because they don’t exist yet, doesn’t mean I can’t make them on my own.