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Hortensia Goes to Class

She looks in the rear view mirror and straightens her hat on her head, tucking in a few loose strands of her hair. She smiles at she looks at her reflection. “This hat is just perfect on me.” She exits her car, slamming shut the car door behind her. Sighing, she mutters under her breath, “Late again!” as she hurries toward the garden center entry. She hopes she looks in command of her destiny, rather than that late person. She has decided that she is not going to ask for directions to the lecture area and pretends to be “just looking about” as she heads toward one of the greenhouse rooms. It is not long before Hortensia hears the clear, pleasant voice of the lecturer over the rows and rows of colourful spring blooms. She slows a bit to admire the blossoms and the greenery, all the while following the lecturer’s voice. It is a container gardening lecture, and she knows the speaker … her boss. She peruses the sale area, just on the other side of the curtain, trying to give herself time to decide just what to do next. She can hear the lecture quite well, but the presentation is walled off by a row of fabric panels. Shall she just stay outside the curtains and listen? But then, she’ll miss the slides. “I love the slides!”, she thinks to herself, and continues the discussion in her mind. “If I walk into the lecture late, I am sure to be seen by my boss. Still … if I don’t walk in now, I’ll seem to be much later than I really was, and if I dally about any longer, I’ll be missing even more of the slides.” Hortensia tiptoes into the back of the lecture as well as anyone in a pair of high mud boots can, which as anyone who is familiar with mud boots knows, that is not very well. She is almost immediately noticed by one of the seated attendees and is graciously handed a folding chair in which to seat herself. She blushes, whispers several thank you’s for the seat, and then slouches down in the seat, trying to blend in as best she can. She is only fooling herself that she can blend in unnoticed— in her hat, her long coat and her mud boots. After settling into her seat, Hortensia sets her mind to focusing on the lovely slideshow at the front of the room and listening to the lecturer, Jenna O’Brien. Hortensia relaxes a bit and looks about her. It seems that everyone else is enjoying the lecture as much as she is. A number of people are madly scribbling notes and she immediately feels remorse — in her hurry to get to the lecture she has neglected to bring her own notebook. She does feel a bit better when she sees that there are more people who are just listening to the lecture without taking notes. The listeners are watching the speaker, with their heads often nodding. Every once in a while Jenna makes an amusing comment and Hortensia chuckles, along with the rest of the audience. There is a great deal of tittering and head nodding as Jenna speaks of getting to know one’s plants like we know our friends and family - “We all know when that certain person in our lives is going to be grumpy, and it is just like that when we get to know our plants.” The lecture ends with a hearty applause. Everyone is instructed to turn their chairs around to view the potting table at the back of the room, where the container demonstration is to be held. “Lucky me!” Hortensia exclaims to herself. “This time the last shall be first!” as she has a seat in the front of the demonstration with an excellent view of the goings on. Hortensia watches as Jenna invites the audience to help her choose a container and instructs them on the how’s and why’s of her plant choices. Jenna gives her soil “recipe” and mixes it up right then and there, filling up the container and then placing the plants skillfully and it seems - beautifully in just the right spot. When she is finished with the container, Jenna asks if there are any further questions. “Yes, I have a question.” someone pipes up from the audience. “Might this container be purchasable, when the lecture is done?” “Perhaps something could be arranged,” Jenna winks and nods to the garden center’s supervisor. Everyone laughs again, and the demonstration ends with another round of hearty applause. It seems that a good time has been had by all.

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