Shady Hollow Garden Club – Camilla Lee

A nearby voice startles me. What are you two up to?” Neither of us had noticed Bitsy, who, on a morning walk, has been watching us from afar. It seems she’s always watching from afar. “Is this allowed in the handbook of Shady Hollow regulations? Residents picking flowers on the facility’s grounds? It’s a liability. ” She’s joking, of course. Or maybe not. In an edgy tone, she adds: “Adelaide, it didn’t take you long to settle into the garden club.”

David answers: “We’re doing this for the lobby flower arrangement. The lilacs are beautiful, and they smell good. Might as well use our resources, and save money.”

“What a clever idea,” Bitsy states flatly, without interest. Then continues her walk at a steady clip. As David and I walk back to the main entrance, we speak about our backgrounds in a limited way. I say to him: “How do you like living here? You passed up the men’s bridge group?”

“I like working with flowers. My ex-wife was a renowned flower designer in the garden club circuit. She won a lot of competitions. I learned from her. In fact, I started entering competitions on my own, after the divorce, and did well, and that made me smugly happy.”

“That’s one good outcome from a divorce,” I add, curious to know more. Maybe another time. “Here we are, the end of the trail.”

Now reaching the building, David and I slowly pass through the whooshing doors, allowing a man pulling a bag of golf clubs to go ahead of us.

“What beautiful flowers!” the receptionist calls. “I can smell them from here.”

“Yes, the lilacs are amazing this time of year,” David replies.

The crafts room is empty. I switch on the overhead lights, while David lays the lilacs on a work table. There are plenty of flower vases above the sink. At the craft end Marianne’s decoupage tray has been left out to dry. I take a closer look; pictures from her childhood, with siblings, parents, grandparents, dogs. I think that’s Marianne on the beach, dark hair, and a pail and shovel. It’s the frown that gives her away. Perhaps she didn’t like being interrupted from her sandcastle project. The pictures on the tray are randomly placed, this way and that. I admire Marianne’s imagination; the precision with tweezers takes skill. Back by the sink, David brings down from a high shelf the tallest vase, and we start working. Arranging lilacs is not easy, as the stems are woody and have tough outshoots, making the blossoms hard to control, but David knows what he’s doing. He has an eye for balance and shape.

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  1. Barbara Crouchley says:

    Camilla’s quiet humor and her observant eye make all these characters real and familiar. And her simple sentences laced with such wit ( between the isobars my mind also wanders). Love reading her short stories. Thank you for publishing this….. I’ll see you there but not in the garden club!

  2. isabel Goff says:

    Loved the story Camilla. Thanks. Izzy

  3. Sarah Lee says:

    Great short story! Love the setting and characters. They were all very well developed. I could smell the lilacs!

  4. Freya says:

    Brilliant! Perfect! Spot on! More!

  5. Perfect!! LEE’s timing is spot on. She never lingers too long nor hammers hard on the surprises. Didn’t want the story to end…more PLEASE from this gifted, wry, insightful writer!

  6. MaryEthel Stack says:

    I can hear your voice, Camilla. Glad you can write so positively about community living. Hope you are going to stay in your big, old house. Enjoyed this story.

  7. Judy Taft says:

    Wonderful story by Camilla Lee. She has a seemingly effortless style, a slightly wicked sense of humor, and spot on-observations about people, in this case, the inhabitants of a retirement home.Would love to read more of her work!

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