Susan Carol Smith, our guest columnist in the Cedar Street Times for 6-16-2017, gives us a reflective walk through a day of memories in downtown Pacific Grove. Susan is the proprietor of Butterfly Cottage Botanicals. She has a goal for her cottage shop to become known as “All Things Monarchs” in Pacific Grove and her store displays reflect that goal. Her story is one of many in “Life in Pacific Grove,” that allow us to get to know our business owners also as PG residents.
I am pleased to announce that we have met our goal of the number of personal PG stories needed to fill the 444 pages of “Life in Pacific Grove,” our new—and first—Community Book. The staggering depth and breadth of stories is eye-opening and mind-blowing. I am committed to print them all – including late entries that arrive between now and June 25. You will be treated to a sampling of these PG stories in this column—right up to the book launch planned for October 6, when the Monarchs return and our children march in the annual Butterfly Parade to welcome them back to Butterfly Town USA.
Familiar Sights and Smells
Through dawn’s fog, billowing like damp dust, wafts scents of rosemary focaccia bread in Fournier’s bakery oven. Something this morning air offers.
CoCo, leashed, tugs me toward caffeine brewing in the coffee shop. Wearing Ugg boots and a scarf twice-wrapped around my neck depicts Pacific Grove’s average 57 degree temperature.
Peering toward the bay for whales, as sea gulls squeal, I see the hawk-walker. The shoulder-perched sentinel hawk flies to a pine tree shrouded in grey-green moss that dangles from its branches like ancient men’s beards.
Swooshing brooms dust the storefront walks. No noisy gas blowers permitted in our quiet city. Delivery trucks caravan, snail-crawling within our 15 mile-per-hour speed limit, bringing fresh ingredients our chefs await.
P.G. Monarch Haven
I make my way to Ms. Flora Conover’s historically marked 1897 cottage where I rent space for my garden gift shop here in Butterfly Town, USA. Towering oaks canopy as I wonder if Miss Conover realized these five, once saplings, would become the graceful legacy of beauty bequeathed to this place when she planted them 120 years ago.
My shop is filled with Monarch merchandise, plants and local art. Reminiscing customers tell me they, or their children, or grandchildren wore Monarch wings and marched right out front in the Butterfly parade.
I think back to my daughter.
She loved my jewelry, rubbed her tiny fingers over sparkling stones of pearls. One evening I asked her, “Should I wear the pearls or the gold chains?”
“The pearls, Mommy.”
Pinching her brow together, asking, “Where do pearls come from?”
“Oysters.” I said, wondering if that could satisfy the curiosity of my inquisitive child who knew nothing of the depth of the sea or the mystery of an oyster’s nacreous layers.
I fumbled with the clasp, the strand broke, pearls scattered onto the floor. I scooped as many as possible, leaving errant ones rolling into the angular recesses of the bedroom.
A Daughter’s Pearl of Wisdom
Months later, my daughter with beams of light bouncing from her blue eyes, a grin of awe, stood with her hand behind her back.
“Mommy, I know where pearls come from.”
“Pearls aren’t from oysters.” She said as she brought her hand from its hiding place, opening her fist to expose a pearl in a wadded clump of dust. “Pearls come from dusty corners.”
In that moment I saw in my daughter a revelation—we can limit or expand ourselves simply with perspective. Through the darkest moments of life, I have found pearls. In those moments wisdom emanates from the dusty corners of my mind.
Here in Pacific Grove, our quaint city, I treasure living my dream, cherish this quiet place whereby my daughter took passage from here into eternity, am at peace each new dawn, to hold the gift of being given another day of life in this perfect place … may it always be between “Carmel by the Sea and Monterey by the Smell” and remain “Pacific Grove by God!” The pearl of the Peninsula.
“Life in Pacific Grove”
Send your personal stories for our new community book, “Life in Pacific Grove” by June 25 to firstname.lastname@example.org or enter on website at lifeinpacificgrove.com. All proceeds to benefit the Pacific Grove Public Library. Patricia Hamilton is the owner and publisher of Park Place Publications in Pacific Grove since 1991. Writer and book publishing services. Call for a free consultation, 831-649-6640, or email email@example.com. Parkplacepublications.com, keepersofourculture.com, and lifeinpacificgrove.com