I took another class, this one at pretty much the other end of the gory-lovely spectrum from my last class experience. …Flower arranging! At sweet Marigold & Mint in the Melrose Market, home to Sitka and Spruce (someone please take me there) and a cheese shop, meat shop, sandwich shop, and oyster bar. Aka: I could very happily live in there forever. Aka: the epicenter of Cap Hill cuteness.
Katherine, head flower honcho, started thing off by throwing together an arrangement as an example for us beginners. (And telling us about her flower farm out in the Snoqualmie Valley…can I live there? In a little tent made of petals?) Flower Arranging 101: Start with thick branchy things, then get progressively lighter. Make a little nest for the later, lighter flowers to snug into. Fellow florist Brita (name envy…pronounced all rolling R-y, not like the filter) showed us how to add just one orchid to an arrangement. Another florist, Ayako, told us about branches, spare little branches that can be so beautiful. (Reminded me of this.) Katherine talked about the current trend in the flower world of loose arrangements, kinda thrown-together looking bouquets with lots of airiness and gentleness and nonchalant-ines, as opposed to the 90s flower-ball style where blooms were squashed up against each other in tight little symmetrical bouquets.
Can’t help but make a correlation to food trends there, especially when I was looking over her shoulder at the Sitka chefs doing Sunday prep at the big long kitchen table the whole time. There’s definitely that same feeling in the (un-)composition of plates these days. Kind of, you know, rustic and simple and “Oh, it just happens to be lovely, I didn’t work too hard.” That look. You know. Anyway, turns out flower arranging is indeed hard work. Challenge #1: Starting. Choosing blooms from the dozens of vases set out for us. These bunchy little roses are nice… these big weepy purply ones are so very nice… these teeny waxflowers are so so very pleasing… oh, the teensier rice flowers though…. Then you have a colossal pile of branches and stems and leaves and blooms and an empty vase. Start shuffling them together, layering branches, weaving in little sprigs of whatnot. (All the while eating very many very good little slices of sesame seeded baguette with creamy cheese from the shop down the way and dreamy jam made by one of the sweet florist teachers.)
Then, challenge #2: Stopping. Cannot stop. One more daffodil? Oh sure. One more purply thing? Well of course. Little holes show up in our arrangement every time you look down at it and there is a compulsion to fill. them. immediately. The other five students all carefully made lovely arrangements with just one or two main colors, with a perfect little frond drooping over one side, a couple tall blooms reaching upward… Mine was an explosion of ruffage. Pinks of all shades. Big blotches of purple. Little spots of yellow. Thick branches reaching out in every direction. I love it. (It is filling my house with JOY, capital letters joy right now.)
Best part of all: carrying it next door to be my dinner companion for a half-dozen oysters at Taylor Shellfish. Not unlike flowers, oysters fill me with delight and love for the world at large. How could anything bad exist in the universe when something this good exists too? I think as I slurp a teeny Shigoku, grown north of here in bags slouching around at the bottom of the sea, attached to buoys, getting tumbled around with the tide. Two little ridge-less shigokus, two small Pacifics, and two something-or-others. Flowers and oysters, solid Sunday. (And did I have a Besalu brioche for breakfast too? And maybe wood fired pizza for dinner? And maybe a smidge of rice pudding for a midnight snack?)