a vignette: well, first, background: we had a good week for flowers, sold almost entirely out at market. So, no big arrangements came home. Those are the ones my sister decorates her house with because what else do you do.
another background: as we were arranging flowers Friday afternoon (and Friday afternoons are a bit exhausting, because it’s quitting time for everyone else, and we’re stuck there still working, and it looks like fun because it’s flowers but it’s sort of mournful because everyone comes by on their way out for the weekend and looks so happy, and we still have eight… seven… five… two buckets to fill, endlessly…), the vegetable manager came by cradling an eggplant in his hands. It was a beautiful eggplant. He just wanted to show it to us, I suppose; he’d seen it, unharvested, in the field, and it was so perfect– the surface was slightly flawed in one spot, but it was a beautiful shape, a perfect fullness, a classic eggplant. What will you make with it? my sister asked. (She took his portrait with this exemplar of his craft and Instagrammed it, and it looks like a professional shot.) Oh, he said, probably eggplant parmesan, I haven’t done that yet this year. oh, I said, I love eggplant parm so much. i never make it, but it’s like, my favorite. you should make it for all of us. oh, he said, ha ha, i’d need more than one eggplant. I’m kidding, I told him hastily, Lord, I wouldn’t actually demand that you cook for me, I’m not an animal.
Well. He comes to my sister yesterday and says, I’m making eggplant parmesan for all of you Sunday night, and in fact he did, and he also made tiramisu, including making the ladyfingers himself, so.
Anyway. Such a nice dinner needs flowers on the table, my sister decided, so she rediscovered that place inside herself that does actually enjoy making flower arrangements, and went out and harvested just a handful of flowers, and made herself an arrangement for the dining room table, since she’d already set the table with a cloth and napkins and the good china and all– because, being an adult, she owns these things, and so why wouldn’t she break them out for every Sunday dinner?
So, it’s 5 pm, Veg Manager is banging pots around cheerfully next door, periodically coming by to borrow very promising things from my sister’s much larger kitchen. Sister has her flowers laid out on the kitchen counter and is arranging directly into a vase.
She trims all the stems, picks up the flowers, is placing them one at a time into the vase.
A little cloud of insects and spiders go scurrying off across the kitchen counter, having been on the flowers when they were harvested, and now seeing an opportunity to jump ship.
I watched this, and she watched this, and she said, “I’m just– going to let this happen,” because what else was she going to do?
I don’t know what gardeners do; we usually harvest into buckets that chill in a fridge overnight (if you see “conditioned” flowers for sale, that’s what that means; it does prolong their bloom period significantly), and we arrange on a table in a barn, so we notice bugs once in a while but it’s nothing like this little scatter pattern of many-legged refugees was. It was impressive.
Hours later, after a sumptuous repast (made of that perfect eggplant and some of its friends!) and much conversation, my sister hastily drank the dregs from a water glass on the table and put it down on the floor inverted. “What,” I said, and then I saw the spider, a goldenrod crab spider I’d seen run off a zinnia, clamber up the side of the glass. She took it outside and put it into the hostas. We felt better.