We are fortunate to have a neighborhood greenhouse, and I went there yesterday to buy more herbs for my garden and some red geraniums for my mother. The greenhouse occupies a large parcel of land surrounded by a business and residential area, thus providing an oasis of color and earth scent. Its flowers and hanging baskets attract hummingbirds, which fly in through the open casement windows.
Other birds are attracted too, and their song provides background music. The place is aptly named Chantier's Floral and Greenhouse.
Grandma Annie had a neighborhood greenhouse, too: LeBlanc's, a smaller place tucked behind Ronnie LeBlanc's little white house in the shadow of St. Mary's
church. On late spring mornings, we'd set off there together, a basket over her arm and mine, to buy annuals.
Annie stocked up on pansies, marigolds, and impatiens, while I marveled at the colors and drank in the warm, fertile smells. We always met someone Annie knew, but at LeBlanc's, I was never bored while the grownups chatted. I was too intrigued with the colors and petals.
We'd lug the now-heavy baskets home, and in a day or so, Annie would return for geraniums for the cemetery plots. She cared for the graves of her parents, and her husband's family; the latter plot included not only my grandfather but also the graves of little Marian and the twin boys Annie lost during World War I.
Many summer evenings, Annie would often suggest a drive to the cemetery. I enjoyed these, as I loved to wander nearby, looking for old stones and perhaps, a mystery or two while Annie and my aunt tended to the geraniums.
Back home, perhaps to take the edge off the bittersweet experience, Annie would suggest a root beer float. Soon a tray of tall glasses with spoons and straws would appear, and we'd settle down into the deep chairs and sofa in the living room while the summer night deepened.
Note: What is a window in Paris without geraniums? I liked the subtle rosy tones of this building in the Butte Aux Cailles.