They were a cute couple by every measure.
Adam, tall and wire-ly slender with a neat, close-cropped haircut, was like a young clematis vine deeply rooted, just waiting for the warm spring sunshine to take off and bloom. Just ahead of him was Ashley, a balance to his height, with wonderfully long dark hair, dark eyes and an easy, warm smile that felt like a basket of perfectly blooming pansies on a cold, dark day.
She was the naturally inclined gardener of the pair and the faster walker too. Already, she had gathered various houseplants into her carrying box and was making a beeline for cold weather vegetables before Adam, distracted by an unusual conifer, had the chance to catch her.
I opted with my tray of two identical lattes to chase Adam first. As he took his first timid sip, he glanced over to Ashley and pointed, “This,” he said, “is her favorite place.”
Unbeknownst to Ashley, we were essentially all in on the plan. My mission? “Serve Ashley her latte right when they arrived,” and Adam would take care of the rest. I could only nervously stand aside and watch idly as history, and more importantly-local history, took place right in front of us.
Meanwhile, Ashley continued to shop until the right moment hit. The sun was shining brightly, and there was but a gentle breeze when she ambled quite innocently down the path near the World’s Largest Hanging Basket (a detail I’m quick to add here) when Adam suddenly interrupted her- on a single knee.
Ashley, right there and then, said “Yes” to Adam.
The feeling of promise and hope and optimism stayed with me the entire day. But when I began to analyze the whole thing further, it begged the question in general: How exactly do you find love? I mean not only partner love but also the love of what we do in a day.
Was it all accidental? Is how we find love really just a game of chance- as if we were just steel balls in some universe-sized game of pachinko? Would the smallest encounter say, smelling a fragrant Daphne on an early spring morning, determine whether gardening will be in our future? What happens if we meet that same daphne on a weather-worn hot sunny day? (Would we be forever unimpressed?)
Or were we born with some preternatural inclination? I couldn’t help think of Ashley being the more enthusiastic gardener of the two. Was she always that way? I’ve heard interviews of famous drummers who tapped on their toys as preschoolers and Academy Award actors who loved to play make-believe. I have met many talented and gifted and renowned plants-people who always preferred to play outside.
Yet with many things we love (as well as the people we love) oftentimes, it comes with a lot of preparation and careful planning and even a daily, vigilant nurturing. Are top experts good because they’re naturally good at it, or has it been a lifetime of finessing? I can’t imagine being a natural at say being an anesthesiologist or an airplane pilot, but that’s just me. Is love in life really like the t-shirt in the mall? “It takes a lot of work to be this good.”
My thoughts turned back to Adam. He put a lot of thought into his plan. He asked us beforehand (He didn’t need to.) He had a photographer friend in hiding. He hid photos throughout the nursery. He listened and watched and learned that Ashley was her happiest right here. Was this thoughtfulness learned? Even learned subconsciously say by his mum or dad or special grandparent? Many gardeners have credited someone in their family that inspired them. Was that connection what taught them what (and how) to love?
Or perhaps the real answer lies in a messy, complicated collection of all the theories. If that’s the case, we might as well throw in a pinch of quantum mechanics and a dusting of a few corresponding entanglements.
Perhaps, in a gardening sense, we are just one in millions (or billions) of seeds with a predetermined destiny waiting for the right conditions to sprout. And once sprouted, it’s our work and effort that we bloom where we’ve been planted.
I know. It’s a lot to make of an amazingly beautiful marriage proposal in a local garden nursery. Meanwhile, however, I’ll keep watching for other historic moments to provide more clues. And in the garden, I’ll keep digging for answers.