A few weeks ago, as COVID-19 was starting to change our world, my husband mentioned, “They’re giving away Gerber Daisies at the Avila Barn tomorrow… aren’t those your favorite flower?”
My shoulders lifted. I’d been pulling all the tools in my mental health toolbox out to keep it together as the pandemic does, well, whatever it does.
I’d already gone through the “let’s catch up on unfinished projects” and “organizing the garage is FUN!” phases of #shelterinplace… and was quickly sinking into a mental place I didn’t want to be.
A little drive and a bouquet of my flowers? Sounds like it could be relaxing… and it would get me (safely) out of the house.
Further investigation turned up a Facebook post from California Grown Flowers stating:
“… you are invited to stop by for a bunch, a bucket, or more… to share with your loved ones, neighbors, senior centers, and anyone who needs a beautiful pick-me-up in their life.
Our dream is to place 30,000 flowers into the homes of our Central Coast communities to spread a little joy & alleviate a little anxiety during these difficult times.”
A bunch? A bucket? Or… more? I could use a bigger drive. And I know some people who could use some serious cheer.
I begin to hatch one of my plans.
Thursday dawned with more tough news.
Mindbody, a major employer in our small town has laid off hundreds. Friends, acquaintances, clients and hundreds of more in our small community are impacted. Another pandemic morning.
Delightfully, today, is different. Today, there will be flowers.
I work until the appointed time, and then decamp to claim a truckload of floral booty.
I’m there an hour early. The scene is overwhelming. Thousands of flowers line the curb next to a huge truck. People come, fetch flowers, wave thanks. Some are masked and gloved, others still catching up to our new normal.
I’m dazed by the strangeness of seeing people again. We dance the newest craze – an eerie six-foot samba. Smiles are shared, muffled thanks exchanged.
In a surreal slur, I stuff the back of my mini SUV with daisies. I’m experiencing some mild shock from seeing the new world with masks and gloves and people again and… so I drive to the nearest ocean and wait for it to pass while watching the waves from the car.
Improv: how to store hundreds of flowers for 24 hours of quarantine? I empty some plastic storage bins – the big flip top kind – fill them with 2″ of water and that seems to work.
Stanley the corgi decides that gerbera daisies are the best snack. He’s corralled into the house and not happy about the buffet closing.
I woke up all wiggly on Friday. Today’s the day!
The clock crawls towards the end of the floral quarantine.
Wash, mask, gloves. I load the car and set out my journey around San Luis Obispo.
I visit friends, doorbell ditching bouquets on their doorsteps and perched atop piles of delivery boxes.
I head to our ghostly downtown. Leave flowers for restaurants offering takeout and other businesses that are still open. Most of them have pickup tables next to their entries, perfect for a few daisies. I pick up a special order from Art Central and hand over a fistful of daisies. I offer flowers to mail delivery people and people out walking their dogs. Neighbors get bundles on their porches.
With every bundle I leave, my heart feels a little lighter. I feel less scared, less alone.