Watching Plants Grow and Avoiding Murder

Annual Heirloom Plant Sale

For anyone not neck-deep in the hat-phantasmic hoopla surrounding the royal wedding, allow me to present a less drama-soaked alternative: watching plants grow!


It occurs to me, that I have watched too many episodes of Midsomer Murders–a British television show on air since 1997 that refuses to die no matter how many casting changes occur.*

If you know the genre, there typically is a picturesque village holding a Medieval Faire with costumed residents oozing quaintness and exhibiting occasional homicidal tendencies.

If you are unfamiliar, I recommend a movie by Simon Pegg called “Hot Fuzz” that crystallizes the best and worst bits about the deceptively serene English countryside:

The thing that captures my attention more than the body count, is the number of community fêtes thrown. There’s like, what, one every episode? It makes me wonder if it is a national British pastime to dress in Ye Olde itchy togs and con people into playing cheesy parlor games for the sake of the church roof fund!

This brings me to today’s topic: American Block Parties.

Most block parties are an organized potluck gathering on barricaded side streets with no other function than to bring a community together to eat. Saturday gives me the opportunity to attend one that is equal parts British Fête Fundraiser and old-fashioned American street festival.

The occasion calls for a gathering of myriad talents to raise awareness and funds for the aptly named Wellhouse. The day’s event is the 6th Annual Heirloom Plant Sale.

Wellhouse is a community program that buys local houses, renovates dilapidated neighborhoods, and provides housing and skills training for formerly homeless residents. They also promote a ‘growing’ community with an emphasis on sustainable practices and energy conservation along with farm gardening.**

Wellhouse hosts a plant sale each year. You go for the plants. You stay for that little something extra you won’t find at your local greenhouse: community!

At first, I beeline to pick up the greenery I want to fill out the barren landscape choked with crabgrass and despair that is my backyard.

Community Plants
Sadly no one was dressed in a jester’s motley with tinkling bells on their pointy hat. On the upside, no one was murdered either.

Per usual, my teenage son has a trajectory of his own.

I keep dragging the man-child away from one table in particular. (I need to ogle flowers with exotic names like ‘Clemson’ and ‘Hyssop’, don’tcha know.)

Coco Renee Specialty Baking
Even better than they look. Seriously dangerous baked goods by Coco Reneé.

I promise my child a specialty cupcake just so I can plant shop. (Twist my arm.)

I don’t know how good the chocolate cupcake with chocolate whipped frosting was, I just know it took my son less time to inhale said cupcake than it took to remove the wrapper.

I pick the one with the raspberry garnish.

I have no regrets.

If you want more rib-sticking eats, you might hit up the royalty-hued catering provided by Purple Blaze, a hybrid of Southern and Ethiopian cooking.

Purple Blaze

Sadly, I have no time to sample their fare, mostly because the boy-child is pushing me to go, however, even I as a non-meat eater have to say the wafting odor of barbecue is positively mouth watering.

Purple Blaze BBQ
Smelled good enough to make me question my vegetarian leanings.

You wouldn’t think there is be more in store at the festivities, but you’d be wrong. The gray, overcast sky can’t put a damper on the upbeat spirits.

There are white-tented tables with various arts for sale. My arms are mostly full of greenery, but I stop to admire the selections.

There were some truly amazing prints to peruse courtesy of Red Hydrant Press.

Calligraphy Art
Putting the ‘Press’ back into printing.

And fabulous arts of the crafted clay variety provided by WMCAT or the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology.

Here’s CC showing off her colorful floral-designed Pot:

CC - Clay Pot

Before long, my son is dragging me toward our Prius in a desperate bid for freedom, but I chat and take pictures as if this isn’t killing him slowly.

CC Alayna and Teacher
From left to right: Teacher Jo Nicholson with students, CC and Alayna, kindly posing for no reason or explanation at all. Really, they are lucky I’m not a serial killer.

Moving between lazy droplets of rain, it is possible to find your smile while listening to The Fabulous Vans.

The Fabulous Vans
From left to right: Ryan Gravelle (wearing the cat shirt his girlfriend gave him), Timmy Van on guitar, and daughter, Sierra Van, on ukelele and vocals.

As I am packing up my car to go, I chat with the guitarist who is setting up for a performance. We exchange brief biographies, the way strangers do.***

I point to my kid who is slumping, hang-dog, in the car since mommy isn’t hopping to like he hopes. Timmy points to his daughter, Sierra, still polishing off some ribs at a nearby picnic table. He brags about her musicality and involvement in local choirs.

You wouldn’t be biased about her talents at AlL?” I joke.

Her dad laughs and denies partiality, “Of course not.”

We talk about kids and music for a bit.

I bemoan my teenager’s rebellion against piano and ask whether he has to badger her to follow in her father’s footsteps? He assures me that she’s the one who wants to sing.

He can’t say enough great things about her. Apparently, she’s even influenced the music they play.

“We usually play classic rock covers–like Led Zepplin’s “A Whole Lot of Love” but Sierra sings from some of her favorites: Twenty-One Pilots or One Republic.”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupt him. “Did you say Twenty-one Republics?”

He corrects me without laughing, much. By now, the rest of the band has loped over, and agrees to stage a picture for me. I hear them play as I drive away. Their enthusiasm isn’t in the least dampened by the drizzly venue.


I spent the rest of the day trying to plant things while simultaneously killing as many weeds as I can.

In the spirit that embodies fine British murder mystery programming, there’s been a summer fête, someone has to die!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Regarding Midsomer’s Suspicious Death Rate: I do wonder how a fictional hamlet apparently no bigger than Rhode Island can survive quadruple homicides on a weekly basis without running out of people?

**I totally stole the Wellhouse information from a flyer available at the front table.

***Even though we all know about serial killers, no one expects them. They are like the Spanish Inquisition this way.

26 thoughts on “Watching Plants Grow and Avoiding Murder

  1. Equally peculiar is the fact that DCI Barnaby’s wife, Joyce, is on the board or planning committee of nearly all of these fetes, carnivals, and quaint festivities. She is a serious serial joiner….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. And then the whole family dropped off the face of the earth after the lead left the show. Buying into the idea that there was a second detective Barnaby in the wings was a bit much to swallow!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “the barren landscape choked with crabgrass and despair that is my backyard.” Mine is a dusty wasteland. Thanks for taking me along. I’m pretty housebound at the moment 🙂

    I loved Midsomer Murders, but couldn’t handle the cast change when the lead character left. And yeah. I wouldn’t live there with a murder rate like that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would post a picture of my backyard for you to cry over, but I’d much rather wait and show you a finished work of floral art.

      Let’s hope we both live long enough to see that day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It IS odd, the number of fetes, although I’d not thought of Joyce… Interesting.
    We don’t have block parties. We do waving now and again, but I think it may be the way of dead-end streets that people are not living here for socialization.
    Plants, on the other hand, I love and cannot (apparently) have enough.
    I put my sammich down to write this comment and I’m sad I’m not picking up a cupcake when I’m done. Must bake cupcakes soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been trying to get all the plants I bought into the ground, but weeds keep taunting me. Then the grass grew lush between rainfalls. I’m now a sticky mess from mowing and all my expensive plants are waiting in their containers for me to make up my ever loving mind as to how I’m going to plant them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE THAT MOVIE, HOT FUZZ! (At first I just typed I LOVE HOT FUZZ, but that sounded too personal, so I changed it.) ANYWAY, I haven’t seen Midsomer Murders, but it sounds like the British version of Crabapple Cove, or wherever Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote hung out. (Hung — see what I did, there?) Glad you had a nice time, and Boy let you enjoy, even if you had to enjoy at a greater rate of speed that you might have preferred.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you should get a t-shirt that proclaims: I love Hot Fuzz!

      No explanations necessary!

      By the way, I used to love Murder, She Wrote, then I watched an episode recently and it was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. Sometimes we should just leave the past alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hehe. Love HOT FUZZ and the earlier SHAUN OF THE DEAD which puts zombies into the same sort of very British emotional landscape.
    What amazes me about Midsummer Murders — apart from the body-count obviously — is how the longer it goes on, the more cosmopolitan the place becomes. One episode had a Midsummer Observatory (celebrating a fete-style open day) while I’m sure they’d acquired a university in another episode. And I guess they keep getting new residents to murder arriving at the Midsummer International Airport and the Eurostar terminal in Badger’s Drift. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t even fathom the word’s Badger’s Drift associated with anything “International!” Not even an International House of Pancakes. But then, I suppose they don’t have IHOPs in the British Isles, do they!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehe. I think they do have IHOP in the UK. I have a very vague recollection of going to one in Fort William or somewhere similar. Not Badger’s Drift admittedly 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, goodness, everything about this post I do adore! Thanks so much for your visit, that I had swung by here to see whatcha got. And I do declare, I had me a good chuckle over this post’s title! As an amateur gardener, seeing that photo of the little potted plants and the info on the farm gardening got me all excited. With art pieces and even comfort food?! What an event and outing! Will follow! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome to stop by any time. I imagine you are a much younger person than I am, so there may be confusion when I reference things like television programs that went off the air before you were born or horrifying you with images of giant-sized American foods. I’ll do my best not to traumatize you.


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