A Day Off in June

Better Half and I have been so tied up with squadron duties that we haven’t had a day to ourselves in a very long time. Mum and Dad are moving here at the end of August and we have so much to do but we needed to take a day off from daily life.

Today was the second day of Holy Trinity’s Greek Festival in downtown Steubenville. We’ve attended six years straight to savor fried smelts and calamari, delicious gyros with cucumber dressing, and handmade dolmades.  The parishioners are delightful and always make visitors feel at home. Hey, opa!  

We brought Piper with us (third year in a row for her). 

Mmm-mmmmm, good.

Afterwards we took a drive to Cadiz and beyond. Many quaint towns sprinkle the area… “Main Street, USA” takes on invigorated meaning when passing through them. This is small town. This is apple pie. This is the heady laughter of a child playing in a sprinkler, or an elderly couple nestled together on a porch swing. We love it.  

We found our way down winding highways and stumbled upon Ferda’s Garden Center. It’s a shame that it took us so many years to find it; they are in the process of selling the business. I fell in love with the center immediately.

For one brief afternoon, Better Half and I daydreamed of what we would do if we could purchase the property. We envisioned a coffee and spice shop nestled in a garden setting. We would rent out space to the community, small “plots” in the greenhouses where people could start their seeds early. We’d invite Phipps interns to work on their programs. We’d hold teas, host book reading groups and dedicate a small area of the upstairs portion of the main building to used books. Harvest festivals, pumpkin patches, rambling leaf-strewn trails and mulled cider would liven up a dreary fall day. Christmas would be an event to be celebrated rather than nightmarishly commercial. Winter would be a time of reflection and hope, and we’d offer horticulture classes as well as invite children to plant their own treasure (which, for $5, would give the child a pot to decorate, a plant to put in it and a lot of dirt to take home for mom or dad to wash off). Spring would be a rainbow of new plants and garden accessories. 
Daydreams are nice. This has been my daydream for nearly two decades. It’s rare to find a property that would make that dream a reality yet here it was, mine for the taking, provided I could secure a loan for $400k. Hey, it would include three vehicles, three of which we wouldn’t need.

We continued on through Colerain, Bridgeport and parts far beyond. It seems that every town boasts an ice cream parlor.  There are small shops that beg to be explored. Old churches rub elbows with derelict homes and gaily festooned cottages.  

The Riverside Restaurant in Powhatan Point was our suppertime stop. Better Half ate a thick-slab Ruben while I picked at his fries. Good, inexpensive food. We sat outside and watched the barges travel the Ohio River. More wistful daydreams about that property. 

We’ve been married nearly eighteen years but the conversation never gets old. I suppose there aren’t many people out there who can spend an entire day with their spouse and still have something meaningful to say to each other. Thankfully, we’ve never run out of things to say. It helps that we’ve kept a sense of humor over the years. 

We wrapped up the day by returning library books (and renewing the one I haven’t had time to read) and finding some pots to tuck plants in. We discovered heliotrope during our garden center exploration and I’ve added it to the front porch. I’ll have to remember to take cuttings at the end of the season – this scrumptiously scented plant (not for eating!) will grow in a mason jar on the window sill, easily transplanted back to the yard come spring. 

All-in-all, it was a very nice break from the normal routine.


I really have had "one of those days".