Remember when I announced that we had a delightfully unscheduled and relaxing weekend ahead of us? And I was so excited about that? Well. Plans have a way of changing, don’t they?
Yesterday morning, I got up with the birds. (No, I didn’t walk, as Sat and Sun are my days off, but after two weeks of getting up at the butt-crack o’ dawn, my body clock is permanently set.) So I enjoyed a couple of hours of glorious solitude before the rest of the family descended upon me with their assorted requests and demands.
Then before I knew it, we had decided to go out for breakfast. But not just any breakfast. Husband wanted to drive out to Lancaster County, home of the Amish and outlet shopping (no, the irony of that contradiction does not escape me!) to this Smörgåsbord that we had heard so much about.
Then we decided that if we were going that far, we really should check out this inexpensive nursery that we had also heard good things about. ‘Cause I needed some annuals and a few hanging plants. And hey, if we were driving out there, we might even pick up a tree. And also. We’d been wanting to create a flower bed around these unsightly vents that stick up in our front yard. And maybe one around our light post and mailbox as well. You see where this is heading, right?
Soon we had all three kids crammed like sardines into the backseat of Husband’s monster Dodge Ram pickup, and we set off to the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies. Seriously. Paul was singing as we pulled out of the driveway. I’m sure you wish you were there.
The ride out was delightful, as long as you discount the whining and fighting in the backseat. Farm after farm dotted the landscape along the rolling Pennsylvania countryside, and the weather was perfect.
We even passed an Amish horse and buggy along the way. To which 7-year-old D exclaimed, “Look! Someone’s in a chariot!” Ahem. Clearly we have some educating to do.
When we arrived at Shady Maple, we were completely unprepared for what awaited us. Paul dropped me off at the door, and when I entered, it looked like the lines at Disney World. There were four or five long lines (that I eventually discovered led to the cash registers), which channeled us like cattle into two lines that led to the seating area. We obediently headed to our assigned seating line, thinking our wait was over. But, just like at Disney, as we rounded the corner, there was yet more waiting, and that line eventually divided into a couple of different hostess lines. It was truly comical.
At long last, we were seated and given instructions. There were five grills that took special orders for every variation of pancake under the sun and every sort of egg dish you can possibly imagine. Then there were two drink stations and various and sundry other food stations where you could get fruit, cereal, breakfast meats, and anything else you can envision that might possibly fall under the umbrella of “breakfast foods”. You name it? It was there. I dare you to come up with something they did not provide.
And all of this cost, are you ready for this? Sit down, now. Thirty Dollars. For a family of five. With no tipping allowed. THRTY. DOLLARS. I don’t know about where yall live, but in the Philly suburbs, there is nowhere short of McDonalds that we can take our family of five and eat for $30.
So after instructions had been received, the hostess left us on our own. Paul and I looked at each other, then at our three kids, then at the bounty of gluttony spread across the room. And we just laughed.
Then, as the experienced parents that we are, we quickly developed a strategy. And somehow we managed to get plates of food and drink for all five of us, and we were able to actually sit down and enjoy it. And I have to say, it was REALLY good food. But I’m not so sure there is ANY amount or quality of food worth the rigmarole that this meal entailed. I may be in the minority, though. Evidently I am, judging from the amount of people willing to be herded like cattle into that feeding frenzy.
So after leaving Shady Maple, we navigated the country roads and found the nursery we wanted to visit. Which was, I kid you not, a single family home with an orchard and several greenhouses behind it, with plants and trees for sale. We literally drove into this family’s driveway to get to the nursery, and it was clearly a single family operating the business. The prices were great, and the atmosphere was quaint. It definitely beats buying your plants at Home Depot!
We ended up purchasing plants to create that bed around the vents in the yard and a few annuals to spruce up the bed in front of the house. Before we knew it, we were on our way home with the plants in the back of the pick-up.
But that’s not all. Before we hit civilization again, we came upon a roadside stand advertising fresh, homegrown strawberries. The first of the season. Husband pulled the pick-up to a screeching halt (well, it didn’t exactly screech; that would have been embarrassing), and I jumped out and grabbed a quart at a whopping $5.95, which gives a whole new meaning to the term “highway robbery”. (Get it? We were on the highway! Ha!)
I wish I could tell you that ends the tale of our day, but our day had just begun. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the play-by-play. Suffice it to say that after a long afternoon of back-breaking labor, Paul had our new garden plot established and I had planted the annuals, and we kicked back with a glass of wine (mine) and a can of beer (his) to admire our handiwork before herding the kids off to bed.
I might get around to posting pictures. Or I may not. I’m making no promises.
But take it from me, if you’re looking for a restful, relaxing weekend, you might want to avoid taking on a new gardening project.