Just when our post-holiday spirits could use a pat on the back and a rousing cheer, fog happens. I deluded myself into thinking that this year I would give fog zero airtime. But, though I brought the subject up, I did manage to deal fog a crippling blow.
I decided that visiting a florist might offer a glimpse of coming spring and an escape from the gloom. Heaven Scent Florist and Gift Shop is just around the corner here in Eagle Point. I’ve purchased flowers and balloons from Cathy Wallace for many years, and each time I go, it’s like opening the door onto another world. A deep breath of the familiar petal-soft, floral deliciousness and fresh greenery clears the brain webs and reminds me of bright days just ahead.
When I arrived, Cathy was working her artistic magic on a beautiful bouquet, while snippets of green and the tools of her trade lay around her work surface. She was in her element.
As we visited about her livelihood, history and stories bloomed. She had worked in the floral industry for 40 years, as in four decades. She didn’t look old enough for that stretch of experience, or to be a new grandmother, which she was proud to share with me. But she was only 7 at the start, and helped her grandfather in his flower business in Tennessee. By the time she turned 13, working in the family florist shop was a regular after-school event. The more we talked, the more her devotion showed. But the floral ancestry didn’t begin with grandpa.
Cathy has pictures on the wall and on business cards of her Aunt Kate and Aunty Ess, great, great, great aunts who sold flowers in the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the famous duck parade and the place where Elvis signed his first record contract. Mary Pickford, of silent movie fame, bought flowers from them, as the autographed photo on the wall attests.
“Aunty Ess used to talk about the gowns filled with orchids coming down. Not just one but 12 to 19, and the furs.”
Cathy loves her flower connection.
“This year, I was particularly inspired. Wintertime, it’s cold, and you know, it’s a hard world outside.”
“I have the fortune to be able to buy greens and make Christmas arrangements that are awesomely beautiful. But locally we have a guy, his name is Baldassare Mineo. He has a garden (Italio Gardens), and he was able to cut fresh greens for me from his garden.”
I love the local connection.
“We got some very special plants and greens ... this year, I was able to go out to the garden and tell him what I wanted him to cut, so it was custom-cut. So I got lots of awesome evergreens.”
She read my motive for coming in when she shared the reason for bringing the green stuff inside in winter.
“Evergreens are so hardy, and it just amazes me and reminds me of why we bring them inside because they are so hardy and we need that hardiness. We need that lasting ability, so it just makes it awesome that we can do this locally. In the winter, I have this rare, wonderful treasure.”
Apparently, in the florist business there’s always a fresh beauty breaking bud just around the corner. After a short lull, comes Valentine’s Day, a busy time.
“The pussy willows are coming out.” She looked hopeful. “They’ll last through Valentine’s Day.”
So, today on a whim, I opened the door to a small florist’s shop in Eagle Point for a breath of fresh air and left having been transported to the Peabody Hotel during the early 20th century. Behind every storefront there is a story, and I got more than what I came for.
— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer living in Eagle Point. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.