Thursday, January 27, 2005

Shields Date Gardens is closing! This makes me more sad than seems reasonable. Maybe because I love their date shakes and their date samples and the wonderful old sign for their "Romance and Sex Life of the Date" filmstrip. Maybe because my main character Ava went there on her first date with Darryl in The Book of Dead Birds. Maybe just because it's the end of an era.

I'm always sad to see vintage buildings or businesses disappear or succumb to "modernization" which inevitably strips away their charm. I hope that won't happen to the Flabob Airport Cafe, which has been around for decades (and where Matt and I go for breakfast on a near weekly basis--we were just there this morning). They have done some rejuvenation of the building outside, but inside, there is still quilted metal on the wall behind the counter, and pictures on the walls that have been there since the 40s, and a cool vibe that comes from being part of the community for ages.

We met the Flabob gardener, Jungle Jim, today. He has been working at the little airport for a year, and has brought the place to life with native plants and wild flowers--it's the kind of messy, vibrant gardening that I love. We asked him about a strange, prehistoric looking plant; it was obviously a succulent, but it had this crazy cone of tiny yellow daisy-looking flowers springing from the top. I had never seen anything like it. He told us it's called a "Schwartzkopf" ("Like the general" he said. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I detected a small sigh as he said this.) He pulled a plant straight from the ground and gave it to us. We warned him that we have black thumbs, but he said that all we have to do is stick the plant in our yard and it will flourish. Then he asked us to raise our thumbs. He pressed his thumb to ours and told us he was giving us gardening luck. It felt like a real blessing, like we were in the presence of a holy man. He obviously has a deep connection to the plants he works with. He gave us his card; we might see what magic he can do with our front yard...

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