Unless you work in a particular profession you’ll never know the ins and outs, the twists and turns required to be successful.
We were spending the day by the lake at the cottage of one of my many aunts. I say one of many aunts as my mother is the oldest of 11 surviving siblings (2 having gone on ahead). Of the 11 left behind, 7 were sisters. One of those aunts had recently opened a florist shop. She was both enthusiastic and unsure as she discussed her first month in business for herself. She had worked for other florists before but now she was venturing out on her own. The talk covered the obligatory topics of income, taxes, etc. as one of the sisters, whose cottage it was, was a bookkeeper by trade. This went on for a while as we sat, drinks in hand, on the patio overlooking the lake. The clear blue of the sky blended seamlessly with the lake somewhere on the horizon.
The kids sat, fishing poles in hand, at the end of the concrete boat launch where the metal tracks that ran from the boathouse under the patio were swallowed up by the lake. They had spotted what they had said were absolutely "eeeeenormous" fish while snorkelling after lunch and now were determined to land the big one. They had been joined by the neighbour’s dog who wore a collar that asked everyone not to feed her. She was old and blind in one eye. She was allowed to wander the shore even though it was her habit to fetch rocks from the water and leave them randomly in yards along the beach to the perpetual irritation of local lawn mowing residents. A huge pile of driftwood had been heaped up by the lake ready for nightfall and marshmallows. My uncle, co-owner of the cottage and the splitting image of Hunter S. Thompson (in looks and deeds), was reknown for his huge bonfires. Like him, they were larger than life and could be seen for miles away.The talk had gone on for a while when my florist aunt matter of factly began to discuss the ramifications of long holiday weekends on the floral trade.
Apparently, if you are in the floral business it is advisable to purchase extra flowers prior to the long weekend to accomodate the demand created by holiday fatalities. It was the casual acknowledgement of a common practice that struck me in particular. A portion of her business was based on the projection of human miscalculation or stupidity. Someone’s holiday weekend tragedy would be that week’s bread and butter. The greater the number of fatalities the better her business would be. Naturally a portion of floral trade concerns itself with funerary arrangements, death has always been a big business. It was the preparative nature of this practice that framed the act for me…the accepted reality of a murphy’s law conclusion for a time period that for most people is associated with carefree leisure and mindless relaxation.
I do not think that she is a callous, heartless person. She is a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt and a business woman. Death it seems is part of her business. I wondered, did she scan the statisics for an extended time period for an average of occurences. She could check the local papers and then pre-order based on the carnage of the past long weekends. If it was a particularly nasty one maybe the funds would be enough for her to enjoy her own holiday weekend.
I didn’t say that of course. I watched the kids’ unsuccessful quest for fishing fame. I watched the dog hunt for the right rock to carry away to someone’s yard. I drank my drink and I made all the appropriate noises as the conversation continued around and over me. I watched the gulls float on the updrafts in the clear blue sky that was melting into the water somewhere on the horizon across the lake.