It was a dark morning and the roads were bare. Snaking through the backstreets to go way out west the sky was starting to glow in strips between the streets empty of people and cars.
At the boom gates the shock of traffic told me that I’d arrived. The Sydney Flower Markets! A long held dream of mine, which due to a chance meeting with a fellow flower lover at a workshop on the weekend, was finally happening.
A non-priority that felt like a priority
Sure, it could be said that flowers weren’t a priority compared to my pre-Christmas to do list. That lethargy was pulling me towards holidays while my tasks nagged at me to stay in the here and now. But here I was. Stepping sideways, into an alternate universe. A universe of indulgence and leisure for me, and hard work and early starts for others.
Forklifts circling, backwards, forwards, choreographed in a Summer morning markets dance. People in high vis vests striding, arms empty to the shed, arms full on the way back out. Quickly. Quickly before the colours you need go. Quickly before the sun rises higher and heats vans and wilts fragile petals. Quickly before the dreaded public arrive and slow things down at every counter and every walkway.
And here I was, beaming in my alternate universe, enjoying a quick coffee and soaking up the atmosphere before launching into the fray. Feeling like part of something old.
Once inside my guide swung me up and down aisles, arms pointing, quick descriptions of people and flower farms, and imports, and species names, jumbled and mixed as we walked swiftly, her words like a tumbled bunch of flowers themselves.
The stall with buckets and buckets of flowering gums, Christmas Bush, stout yellow banksia. People walking through with just one gnarled perfect woody stalk ready to add to an arrangement.
The stalls that go down half a length of the market, a one stop shop, all the popular flowers, with a special emphasis of reds and greens this festive season. The stallholder a king sat low behind a vast counter top. Peonies, roses, November lilies, Lisianthus, assorted greenery spread out before him.
The tiny one-man show, with a single type of bloom that he grows, picks and transports and now sits behind, smiling. He has carefully arranged snapdragons and gerberas.
The vast stall with a sea of dahlias that leaves me overwhelmed and feeling giddy.
The plump, short bunches of waterlillies that have me feeling longing and wistful and wondering how they will handle the trip home out of water.
The boxes and boxes of imported roses, causing a stir, causing eyebrows to raise amongst those stallholders who proudly proclaim ‘locally grown’ on large hand written signs.
And amongst the blooms are trolleys being wheeled and me getting in the way, and slightly bawdy staff banter, and brides to be with armfuls, and florists with carefully chosen colours.
So many, so much. I drink in my fill, I drown in flowers and possibilities.
What I leave with
Two hours later I leave with an odd assortment of tall and short bunches, deep red, rust orange, buttercup yellow and white. I have three spools of ribbon which are almost 100m long combined. Maybe a plant pot or two. I have new sharp flower snippers which I never knew I needed. I have beads of sweat now rolling down the centre of my back. I have a whole heap less money then when I went in. I have an awkward gait of someone who didn’t quite think through how to carry all these.
Most importantly I have that kind of sweet sticky golden joy that glides down your core like honey along the inside of a glass.
It makes me wonder about why we wait so long to do the things we most want to do. As I leave I notice how the end of the year feels more glorious, beautiful and abundant than it did yesterday. This simple early morning visit to a place open all year round, less than an hour from home, makes me feel like I have stepped through into a new version of myself. Stepped back into the here and now energized, refreshed, and full of possibilities. This reminds me of the Artists Dates that Julia Cameron prescribes, and I realize I’ve been a bit lacking in these lately.
Why don’t we do what we really enjoy more often?
It humbles me as a coach to be reminded of how powerful it feels to do what we really love, and how complex the inner barriers can be to doing just this. It reminds me that I am just as susceptible to resistance and fear as my clients.
As an artist and someone who facilitates creative space for others I can feel how I am filled up and inspired with this experience of the wild abundance of beauty in so many different forms. It reminds me loudly that self-care can be about relaxation and rest but also about inspiration and the uplift of excitement blowing gently into our sails.
I know that time of year can be exhausting. We are often juggling family responsibilities, Christmas parties, work deadlines, and feeling our energy flag from a busy year. It can feel like we are limping to the finish line. At my visit to the flower markets I am reminded that connecting with what fascinates and inspires us is always worth the time.
(Image is one of mine)