A few flowery days

I’ve been searching out flowers. Thinking about luck and aging and history…

My father was a florist in Waterbury, Connecticut, where I grew up in the 1950s. Most early mornings he headed to the wholesale market. Schmoozing while selecting fresh flowers that had arrived overnight from Hawaii or some distant sunny place.

I had no way of knowing that 60 years later I would be living in the sunny Sonoran desert around 50 miles from the Mexican border.


Glorious ocotillo

As a kid my job at my father’s store, Cherry Hill Gardens, was to unwrap the protective newspaper around hundreds of poinsettias, hydrangeas, or tulips, depending on which holiday a shipment honored. The plants were unloaded in a dank gray garage, formerly a livery stable at the end of the driveway.

An elderly black man, whom my brother and I called Ike the Pike, helped out during busy times. I liked him. He was funny.


See the bunny ears on the Santa Rita prickly pear?

Later I learned that Ike drank a lot, which I may not have understood back then.

My mother didn’t want me to be alone with Ike.

I always asked her, “Why not?”

She replied, “Because I said so.”

My mother, a Russian immigrant, was always afraid. In the early 20th century she arrived as a toddler with her mother and brother at Ellis Island.

That was more than 100 years ago. It must have taken tremendous courage and perseverance for my grandparents to leave Russia in search of a better life. They were lucky. My grandfather arrived first, followed a few years later by his family.


I don’t get it. We’re all descendants of immigrants. Luckily, a majority of Americans support refugee resettlement. (Here’s a long but illuminating conservative take on our current political mess, including the immigration battle).

I remember, as a kid, not getting the big deal about having plants for holiday celebrations.

Dazzling prickly pear blooms amaze me year after year. Lilacs swaying on branches behind my Maine house, their fragrance wafting through the air, intoxicate me. Now I get the necessity of plants and flowers. It’s about the passing of time. And still being here…and being lucky.


*In memory of Julie Russell and her magnificent smile, her unwavering kindness to all, and her sweet backyard garden.



























This entry was posted in Baby Boomers, Bopping Around Tucson, For Love of History, Nature Girl, Old friends and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A few flowery days

  1. sydvinflynn says:

    So nice! Perfect reading for today.

    #yiv7987168996 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7987168996 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7987168996 a.yiv7987168996primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7987168996 a.yiv7987168996primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7987168996 a.yiv7987168996primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7987168996 a.yiv7987168996primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7987168996 WordPress.com | sheilawill posted: “My father was a florist in Waterbury, Connecticut, where I grew up in the 1950s. My father headed to the wholesale market most early mornings. He schmoozed, while selecting fresh flowers that had arrived overnight from Hawaii, or some distant sunny place.” | |

  2. sheilawill says:

    Thanks Sydney and Vince!

  3. judith cox says:

    I love hearing the story about your family, parents and the flower business. Not once have I ever heard even an allusion to it. No wonder you are so taken with the gorgeous flowering plants of Tucson. AND I love that you have dedicated this entry to dear Julie and her little garden. See you pretty soon:)

  4. sheilawill says:

    It felt right. Thanks Judith! I thought I said that I liked Ike. He was funny. I had no concerns about him. But my mother was afraid, no doubt she was racist too.

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