For the 5th year, I took part in the madness that is Valentine's Day at a flower shop. It was a great excuse to come to Bellingham and see old friends and co-workers, and get lost in piles of sweet-smells for a few days. Despite the long hours, we have a blast in our warehouse of creativity.
You talk to lots of people and hear about their lives, which is part of why flower shops are an important part of community. You might make bouquets for a man sending flowers to his wife of 40 years, or a husband in Iraq to his new bride, or a sister to her sister, or a dad getting a small bouquet for a young daughter. My favorite story though was from an older man who hobbled into the shop, eyes watery. He wanted to get a plant for his neighbor woman across the street. He explained that her husband had drowned a couple years ago while they were on vacation in Hawaii, and she was 6 months pregnant with their first child. His wife of 50-some years had also recently passed away. While the neighbors hardly knew each other at the time, they ended up bonding over their similar losses, and as he was also a pediatrician, he could answer her questions about the new baby. Now they have dinner together every Saturday night. He reminded me of how close love is to loss, and that sometimes the best relationships are unconventional.
The old man leaned in close to tell me, "And we're just good friends, there's nothing, you know, romantic going on." Well, I had assumed as much based on the age difference, but I thought it sweet that he made a point to clarify. I assured him that a plant was an appropriate "friendship" valentine gift, and the man wiped his eyes and left the shop smiling.
I'm a writer and editor in Seattle. I started this blog in 2008 to chronicle my travels in Latin America, and continued writing through jaunts in Europe and Asia.
Now I'm back where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and can't stop hiking to fire lookouts in the Cascade Mountains.