A Walk to the Columbia Road Flower Market
I wish I could tell you that I cared about flowers more. I do like them, but usually the wild kind. Queen Anne's Lace and buttercups and clover blossoms and Devil's Paintbrush and Dandelions. I love flowers, really, but I prefer them planted in the ground where they are happily growing, not snipped and sold and stuck unceremoniously in a vase to wither and die.
But, when a dear friend of mine recommended the Columbia Road Flower Market, and described it as a "must-see", I trusted her judgment and went. The walk there was pleasant enough, with lots of charming brick buildings with street names like Quilter St, Wood Close and Hare Marsh.
The market itself, though, was an agoraphobic's worst nightmare. Crushing crowds, sellers hawking flowers, "three for a tenner!" and the sun beating down mercilessly from above. The color of the flowers was astounding, and the variety was impressive. If I'd had anywhere to put a handful of thistles or a bouquet of peonies, then I might have been tempted, but as it was, I had several rapid panic attacks and had to remind myself to breathe, breathe, breathe, and that screaming in a crowd was not socially acceptable.
When we fought our way to the sides, and then into an old bookshop, I felt my breathing return to normal and my shoulders relax, the scent of old books-vanilla and mustiness and something like moss- calmed me. I picked up an old copy of Winnie the Pooh and purchased it happily, sneaking out the back side of the shop, back onto Quilter St, and away from the press of the crowd.