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Jul 26, 2019


It was the first day out in a few months that my mum had had, when we came across a hidden treasure. I had expected simply to take my mother for a drive, stop somewhere for lunch, and find a place she had told me about that sells plants. She is an avid(1) gardener; she can make anything grow, and has an elephant's memory for plants and how to propagate them. This would be a welcome break for her, as she had been stuck at home, recovering from an illness, with only short trips chauffeured by me here and there. This trip would take at least half a day and give her a sense of really being out of town.

We drove past extensive orchards on both sides of the highway. This otherwise very dry, semi-desert valley, has large patches of green throughout its area, thanks to the Columbia River. It looks like a quilt. (2)After a while I realized that I had driven for too long; we must have already passed the place my mum was looking for. I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a pleasant looking cafe to ask for directions. It was rustic and cheery. There were fridges full of fruit and vegetables, shelves loaded with local honeys and jams, and groups of people eating freshly made sandwiches and drinking coffee. "I'll ask for directions later, " I said to mum. "Let's eat!" We were very impressed with the quality of food, and the good service. Before we left, the owner wrote down the directions to the nursery that my mother was looking for. I put the address in Google Maps, and we were on our way.

The last time my mother had been there was about ten years ago. "Oh yes, this looks familiar," she said as I turned off the road. We bumped along a very narrow, rocky road that winded into an almost derelict living area that had a trailer and a strange shed. There were small signs of life, like a tv satellite dish and parked vehicles, but everything looked broken and dirty. There was no-one around, but I got the impression that we were being watched. "Um, I think we need to leave," I finally said, and turned the car around. One road down we came across the correct turn off that lead us downhill towards the river. On the steepest, dustiest part of the road, the nursery plastic tunnel came into view. We were thrilled. There were actually 4 huge plastic tunnels bursting with flowers of all colors and kinds. My mum thought she was in heaven. We walked around oohing and ahhing(3) at all the beauty. All the plants had just been watered so it was quite humid of course. However, the person who had done the watering was nowhere to be found, and nor was anyone else! We were completely alone in this world of flowers. 

"How are we supposed to buy anything?" I asked, looking around. "Well, this is extraordinary," said my mum. "Anyone could fill their car up and leave!" I searched for clues, and found a little shed near the entryway with an open book with lists of plants that had been sold and their prices. Nearby was a sign that was half covered with ivy. It said, "If nobody is here, we're not far away, simply call xxxxxxxxx and we will be with you soon." So, I called the number that connected me to a lady, and I told her that we had left ten dollars for three little plants. She was very interested in how I had found her nursery and where I was from. In fact, she talked so much that I had to tell her that I needed to leave. Before I did though, she told me that I needed to pay a few more dollars for the flowers I had selected. How strange, I thought. No one is available for customers, I call to tell her how much I have paid and for what, and she wants to chat, and then tells me that I owe more.....How unusual. Of course I paid more before I left, but laughed with my mother about the extraordinary lack of service. When I think about the nursery now though, its the thousands of flowers that come to mind. It was unusual and at the same time incredible to be in a vast place of plants and color but completely alone. It was like our own colorful secret.

1. 'Avid' means 'keen', 'enthusiastic', 'active', 'motivated'.

a. He's an avid painter; it's a daily practice for him.

b. She is an avid gardener; she does it all year round and is very knowledgeable.

2. 'A quilt' is a handmade blanket that has usually square patches of cloth of all different patterns.

a. In this area, ladies do 'quilting'. They sit in groups, making their quilts, and sharing their stories.

b. My great grandmother's quilt is worn, but so cosy. Some of its patches are missing, but it is still soft and comfortable.

 3. 'Oohing and ahhing' are the noises we make when we are very impressed with something we find. 

a. "Ahhh!" said my dad as the new, red, Porsche drove by. 

b. I left the jewelry shop as soon as I could. I couldn't stand all of the oohing and ahhing of the ladies while they looked at the necklaces.