Armstrong to the Rescue

If I get out during the lunch hour, I usually buzz a Starbucks near the office for an unsweetened passionfruit iced tea, drive aimlessly for 45 minutes, then run an errand just before heading back to the office. Today was one of those days when I was able to do that.

After passionfruiting, I couldn’t decide whether to go south on PCH, or north. Instead, I decided to head north on an entirely different street — just to see what I could see.

I saw an equestrian center and was reminded of my time at a horsemanship camp when I was 12. Back then, I wanted a horse so badly that I would’ve done anything for one. These days, being an adult and all, I’m acutely aware of the expense a horse requires and — while I still want one — I need to snag the property first in Palos Verdes so that it has a suitable place to roam. Working on that.

I saw a driving range and remembered how I took my dad golfing for either his birthday or Father’s Day when I was, oh, maybe 10 or so. It was the worst gift I’ve ever given him, yet I’ll never forget how patient he was. We only “played” nine holes, but with the first one being beyond an agonizing experience for me, the other eight were exponentially worse. Picture an inexperienced 10-year-old holding up the others behind us, wildly hitting balls here and there, and doing everything from cackling hysterically to reaching my boiling point in the process. I’d only ever hit a bucket of balls here and there, or used the putting green with him when he went — so taking him golfing wasn’t the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had. They were the longest nine holes ever, but somehow we made it out alive that day.

I don’t think I’ve golfed since then — but I’ve certainly thought about lessons. Maybe in another lifetime.

And then, as I continued on my lunchtime drive, I came upon it: an Armstrong Garden Center.

I’ve been meaning to go for a few months now, but I haven’t made it to one yet. But there it was, at the corner(ish) of Goldenwest and Slater, beckoning me to come inside.

I had my iced tea and the sunroof was open, so I thought about just staying in the car and continuing to wherever it was that I ended up driving. As I rounded the corner and turned onto Slater, there was one final driveway that led to it, so I figured it was a sign.

And it was.

My last trip to Lowe’s left me a bit uninspired, as I couldn’t find any Coneflowers to attract the butterflies to my yard, nor could I find any decent groundcovering to replace the Red Apple which used to be in the front of the house. Armstrong’s, however, had all of the above — and then some.

I spent a good 50 minutes wandering, then was jolted back to reality by a) the loud suctioning of a lonely straw, thanks to an empty passionfruit iced tea cup, and b) the realization that I was suddenly out of time during my lunch hour.

When I left the office, I had a dull ache in my lower back. After getting lost in my thoughts and walking around a relatively empty garden center while admiring the selection of plants, flowers, pottery, herbs and fruit trees, I felt renewed, invigorated and ready to tackle the latter part of my day.

Tonight I am thankful for the calm I found earlier this afternoon at a garden center, for the feeling it gave of having taken a long, restful nap and for the peaceful mindset that stayed with me the rest of the day, straight into the evening. It’s funny what a little fresh air and beautiful flora can do for the soul.

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