Saturday, 9 February 2013

signs of life

We were lucky with the weather at work.  A customer who'd travelled from somewhere else in Suffolk said they had snow, and when I got home I discovered it drizzled here, but in the plant centre it was dry, calm, and fairly bright.  Cold, but really quite nice.

The first of the spring flowering bulbs we potted ourselves were ready for sale, and it was my job to unload them from the red trolley in which they'd made the voyage across the car park, and set them out in alphabetical order by the entrance to the shop.  The only ones in bloom were a tiny iris 'Gordon', a dainty little thing with flowers in a vivid shade of mid-purple, splashed with yellow.  They were delightful, but even the pots that contained nothing yet but newly emerging tufts of leaves had a very hopeful, engaging quality.

After putting out the bulbs my next job on the manager's list was to move all the hostas lined up on the gravel in the shaded tunnel back on to their tables, now that the creosote substitute on the tables has dried.  This initially looked as though it was going to be an utterly baffling task, since the order of the hostas on the ground was not immediately clear, and they needed to be in strict alphabetical order on the tables.  Once I'd understood what the person who took them off the tables had done it became very straightforward, and simply involved lifting a large number of pots.  They were only two litre pots for the most part, so not individually very heavy, but collectively they must have weighted a lot.  It didn't seem worth putting them into a trolley to move them a few metres, so I had quite a thorough low-impact workout lifting a pot in each hand and carrying them several paces to the table.  I weeded them all, trimmed off any remaining dead stems, and topped the pots off with fresh compost.  They were not very weedy to start with, but I used about half a bag of compost, handful by handful as I levelled off the top of each pot.

By mid afternoon I'd finished the jobs allocated to me on the list, so in a spirit of co-operation did one of someone else's tasks and lifted the moisture loving plants back on to their table as well.  My colleague was working hard packaging up mail order deliveries, so I didn't mind helping out with something on his list.  My other colleague was supposed to do some more creosoting, but I drew the line at volunteering to help with that.

Now that the cafe people are not coming back they have taken their chiller cabinet away.  It was vast, hideous, horribly noisy, and blocked one of the windows, so I'm not sorry to see it go.  They have also taken their wall clock.  The owner bought a replacement in Hadleigh for an impossibly small amount of money, seven pounds and something for a largish wall clock, but it has a fussy face with Roman numerals, and makes me realise how much better designed the cafe people's clock was.  It probably cost more than seven pounds and something.  We have inherited the blackboards for the menu, which have been customised with our name on so are no use to them, and a scrappy oil painting of their original cafe which I hope they are coming back for, since I really don't like it.

The bright day and promise of spring around the corner brought out the customers.  Our tally at the end of the day was helped by the man who bought over five hundred pounds worth of trees, but even without him we'd have hit a respectable total.  Let us hope we don't get snow next week, otherwise it will all go quiet again.

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