Photo Essay

Behind The Scenes: Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

We all do it (or should)...send flowers to our mothers' on Mother's Day. Mom would be surprised if she knew that you waited to the last minute to send those flowers though. What, you don't do that? Then you would be surprised at how many people do!

This is what I discovered recently when I visited a florist shop located in the San Francisco Bay Area (Castro Valley, California) a few days before Mother's Day. My wife has been helping out at the shop for the past few months. After hearing her stories from Valentines Day, the busiest time of the year for florists, I regretted not tagging along with her to work to capture the activity. Once she started talking about how crazy Mother's Day is for them, I saw my second chance.

As you approach Castro Valley Florist and walk through the front door, it looks like any other day. Occasionally a customer will arrive to place or pick up an order. However, once you pass underneath the "Employees Only" sign and enter the back room, where all the arrangements are created, it's a different world.

Five florists working full tilt on cutting flowers, assembling bouquets, creating corsages, writing note cards, moving orders from one bin to another and arrangements from one table to another. Every few minutes the phone rings. "Aren't you going to answer that?", I ask Geri, the owner. "No, it's easier to let it ring versus picking up and trying to tell them that we aren't taking orders anymore because we can't guarantee delivery" she replies while busily turning three red roses into a corsage.

The activity is at a break-neck pace. Flower cuttings litter the floor, no one has time to clean them up. Everyone is busy just getting work done. It's almost 2pm, but no one has had time for lunch yet. Even as the bouquets are being created, the TV is on generating background noise that no one in particular is listening to. The florists mutli-task with witty comments and jokes flying around...mostly about the camera totting husband.

The bell from up front rings, a customer has just walked in. One of the florists drops her floral snips to head up front to help the customer. She comes back two minutes later with a pickup receipt in her hand. "Did someone create a 6 Rose Bouquet for a gentleman?", she asks no one in particular. "A pickup, today? How did that slip through the cracks?", another replies. She looks at the receipt, and utters a "Huh..." as she cuts some cellophane from the roll and starts creating the bouquet on the spot.

One emergency bouquet done, back to another one. It's a cyclone of activity. Just when the table with arrangements waiting to be delivered looks like it's about to spill over onto the floor, in walks one of the delivery drivers. "Hayward..." he calls out, "..What do we have?" Out walks a bunch of arrangements for delivery, making room for the fresh ones.

As I prepare to leave, the pace of activity is still buzzing. This will continue all the way through Saturday night, the day before Mother's Day. No rest for the weary florists; but Geri, the owner, doesn't complain. This is the time of year when they get a good portion of their business. Don't worry, they will get your bouquet to Mom's house on time. "In today's world, no one gives their word anymore," comments Geri, "except us. It's important".

Later, as I'm back at home writing this up, something on the television catches my attention. A talk show guest is commenting on Mother's Day: "Rather than sending flowers to Mom just on Mother's Day, she should get flowers on each of her children's birthdays. That seems like a much better way to recognize the work and responsibility of mothers." What a great that I'm sure your local florist will be glad to assist with.

Happy Mother's Day!

(The complete set of images from this photo essay are viewable at > Projects)

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