This greenhouse is part of a larger business that belongs to a friend of my father’s. It is currently non-operational and has been abandoned and up for sale for the last couple of years.
I can still remember watching them hunt snapping turtles in the summer and terrorizing the waterfowl on their small cattail choked pond when I was a kid. In the winters, we would wait for it to freeze over so that we could go ice skating. Skates were put on in one of the shuttered greenhouses; it was always so cold that my fingers would turn white and stop working. I have a vivid memory of my skate held carefully between my father’s knees as he laced them up for me one of those times my fingers became useless. My skates belonged to my mother when she was younger. They were a sort of roughed up, fuzzy old leather and I had used white shoe polish to try and make them look better. They had these ridiculous homemade pink pom-poms tied through the laces down at the toe and gave terrible ankle support.
When I got older, I worked a summer at the greenhouse when they were still running wholesale alongside their newly opened on-site store. I was always selected to pull flats of tomatoes, partly because their green house was short and so hot and humid it felt like there was no air to breathe, but also because I could drop down and sit cross-legged, scoop up several trays so they ran down the length of both arms, and smoothly stand up without losing my balance.
The guy who ran the place was always hatching the craziest schemes; my favorite was the one where he was going to have these fancy gardens in the middle of everything with peacocks living in them. The gardens never happened, but the peacocks did; they lived in a large shed towards the back with a huge chicken-wire wrap pen. They smelled and were absurdly loud, but the two females were nice enough; the male was kind of a jerk.
As the years have passed, age and economy made the place more than they could handle. It’s a rather typical farm sort of story: the kids don’t want to take it over, 24/7/365 is too much for the owners, and no one wants to buy it. So it sits there. The sheeting is ripping off of the two greenhouses that have managed not to collapse, and though plants grown up from seeds that were scattered still pop up and flower here and there, it is literally just a shell of what it was. Every time I see it, I have all these weird complex emotions about where I grew up, and what is happening to the space that I once knew as it becomes something new to which I have no connection.