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What’s Better Than Egg Souffle in Marrakesh? Mexicans at Waffle House and the Last Flowers of Frost

Gardening puts me in the middle of two very different groups of people: those with lots of cash who pepper their conversation with French and those with lots of bills, who speak Spanglish while we work.  A late afternoon call from a client of the first group, then a text from worker of the second led to working all night and coming to terms with contrast of our places in the world.

I was cutting the last of the flowers before tonight’s frost when I got the call from a client. Let’s call her Mrs. Devine. She needed me to help entertain some visitors. Not exactly visitors but other employee types like me. People who span the spectrum; employee, entertainer, friend. 

The last Crinum of the summer.a call from her.  Let’s call her Mrs. Devine. She needed me to help entertain some visitors. Not exactly visitors but other employee types like me. People who span the spectrum; employee, entertainer, friend. 

Jomm flies south on a private plane to “curate” Mrs. D’s wardrobe.  He likes me, I like him. She likes us both. So tonight I was needed me to hang out in an enormous closet, to chat, to keep things lively and make his trip to the boondocks seem fun.  He and his new young assistant needed boxes and racks taken from closet to storage. I did that too. Mrs. Devine kept wine flowing, in the closet.  She liked the cross pollination as Jomm and I talked about similarities of fashion and gardens; design, textures, colors, fragrance and choreographing peoples experience.

When Jomm and Jill finish presenting their ‘lookbook’ of autumn ensembles, the book of photos and notes is truly needed for such a complex closet, we refill glasses for a stroll the hillside garden. They’d shown me their work, now it was my turn.  Jomm appreciates the garden, “its painterly and playful.”  But young Jill can’t get past the mosquitoes, the chill nor the plant names.  She tries. She tells stories of the glory days of interning at Valentino that somehow led to the best egg dish she’s ever had, “If you’re ever in Marrakesh, you have to try this place….” I switch tactics in trying to engage Jill in the garden. “Listen,” I say, but she doesn’t appreciate the bullfrog chorus. This may be a long evening.

The text saves me from a formal dinner.  “!Emergencia!”, Edwardo cries.  Switching from wine to coffee, I’m off to a gardener’s trailer to help figure out how to get him and his family back to Mexico fast. What do I say? Buenos? Buenas tardes? Noches? Doesn’t matter. A web search, a lot of phone calls while they pack the mini-van. It’s midnight. We have to drive to the air port in Atlanta. I’m in the middle of a family emergency, in Spanish. Children crying and cousins trying to help. “Yall just load the bags, OK?   Where is the baby’s ORIGINAL birth certificate? All the children in the car?” I’ve never asked that question in my life.

Three hours to Atlanta and Delta is amazing.  The agent speaks Spanish. I stand back and am proud that Edwardo can handle all of this now. He is the man, the Daddy. He’s barely 21. He looks scared. His first airline ticket purchase, check in, luggage. Even changes to a flight connection go off gracefully. I’ve known him since he was 16. I want him to be proudly in charge of his family. The agent kind of shrieks and they run to the security line.  He takes off his shoes, his thick gold necklace, finally his belt.  They hold up the line. Then they’re gone.

Well, not all of them. An adventure like this for a young Mexican family means the car was packed with curious cousins. Three teenage fellas are left with me. They’ve never been to the city. They’re ecstatic seeing dawn breaking over the skyline. I cannot disappoint them. We pull into Marta station; their first train ride.  The city sparkles through frosty train windows. They take selfies and try to read the maps on the ceiling. We glide with the crowd up massive escalators up to Peachtree station then out, into a canyon of glass towers. Mesmerized for a moment, the frigid wind drives us right across the street into Waffle House.

While three excited boys point out the windows, cackling, talking so fast I cant catch a word, I take a bite of  close my eyes and think there’s just no way any eggs in Marrakesh could be better than this all star omelt.


If you like this story, check out our new book

Funky Little Flower Farm.


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19 Responses to What’s Better Than Egg Souffle in Marrakesh? Mexicans at Waffle House and the Last Flowers of Frost

  1. Avatar
    Lin November 1, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    What a wild and diverse 24 hours! It makes my day seem calm – and I spent all day bringing all tropicals that summered outside, inside in anticipation of our first frost.

    You’re a good friend to many, in very different ways.

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Lin,I was planning on moving things in today! But since it 38F I guess they can wait.

  2. Avatar
    Gary Brightwell November 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Taking Jenks’ challenge to put something intelligent on this blog about his plants. Well, his plants, his philosophy all lend themselves to anyone who has heard him speak, seen his graden, and enjoyed his thoughtful comments about the earth to becoming JENKS GROUPIES. He certainly has “groupies” in Walterboro who have heard him speak here and then had the special treat of going to his farm ad purchasing some of his wonderful plants. We at the Colleton Museum got some of his wonderful crinums and have them planted in two horse troughs outside our building. WE LOVE them and so those that pass by them! Crinums reputation as being the cemetery flower of long ago appeals to us at the Museum! Carrying on the heritage of the resting place of those ancestors from long ago………………….it seems only fitting that we should have them!

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

      Gary, You museum people! We love that you visit but people who can’t make it can see the farm in the About/video section!

  3. Avatar
    Molly Vaughan November 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Jenks! It surely is a testament to your wonderful upbringing and status as a proper Southern gentleman that you can switch so quickly and easily between the monied and the Mexicans. My best to you, Tom and Miss Gloria on this blustery day. ~MV

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      Miss you Molly. You made me think of a friend who is a monied Mexican and always says how funny it is when he’s in a spiffy suit and I’m all dirty and tired.

  4. Avatar
    DB November 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Am I a “groupie”? 🙂 I like to read your blog, I’ve been to one of your presentations, I’ve been to your mom’s home and have seen your beautiful garden, i’ve been to Moore Botanical Garden, and i’m asking for your book for Christmas! Whether I am or not, I really like your being down to earth and being proud to be a southern boy and at the same time, being able to travel the world and connect with all peoples.

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      That groupie thing is a joke. Or just plain b.s.How did you make that smiley face?

  5. Avatar
    Tibia Johns November 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Jenks, your stories are so insightful, and this blog is one that could certainly have been included in “The Wilds”! I’ve been so enjoying the Hymenocallis maximillianii purchased from your farm a couple of years ago. It, like you, seems to reach out in many diverse directions. Keep being “Jenks”. You have many admirers out here! Tibia Johns (Powdersville Garden Club)

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

      I love our other bulbs beside crinum and glad you do too. Sometimes I dig hymenocallis just to see their beautiful bulbs.

  6. Avatar
    Nancy November 1, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Crinums are a visual link to our collective history here in the lowcountry. The history of both wealthy and not so much. Crinums are a bright spot on a day so hot and humid that it is hard to breath lrt alone move. The crinum that my cousin planted at the grave of her dead child many years ago, still blooming. They are part of our individual family histories. too.

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      You know, we don’t talk about it much, but we send a good many bereavement gift boxes of crinum lily bulbs. There’s a reason they’re called cemetery lilies.

  7. Avatar
    Modern Mia November 1, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Oh, heavens, a good Southern story. Lawsy but you had me nodding along in my head describing the whiplash of a good Southern night. Thanks for making my afternoon! Now off to figure out what’s making my age-old crinums blotchy.

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Just cut those blotchy leaves off and put them in the trash; not the compost.

  8. Avatar
    candace carter Crosby November 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Hello good garden people,
    26 degrees forecast here in the Piedmont of VA got me in the garden this morning to bring the outside in. 20 amaryllis pots from Xmases past were sheared and put on their sides in the furnace room. Christmas cactus, including a pure white one I love and a color hard to find, many pots of walking iris which I repotted this summer and now need to be repotted again, will make a nice display in dreary Feb., until then they will love being on top of the dryer. Foxtail fern, a double ponytail palm, clivias, orange and one yellow are in the kitchen. A few orchids, I refuse to throw on the compost just because they never rebloom, and an ardesia full of red berries from friend\’s mother\’s garden in NOL go to the dining room. I wondered as I was lugging some of this stuff in (I am a woman of a certain age), how many more years can I do it? Let me not forget the big agave which I perched on my hip as they are prickly customers.
    Jerks, my crinums were their usual lovely this summer, I have bought several from you when you in VA. But one big, leafy clump, I guess 10 years old did not bloom, do I need to dig and divide in the spring?
    Hope the Mexican family is safe and sound and yes, the rich are different from you and me and it is just not more money!
    Off to cut the last of the dahlias for the dinner table.
    As, Mr. Jefferson would say,
    Yours in the fellowship of the spade,

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 1, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      Your big, 10 year old one has flowered before? Remember, like a growing child, the bigger it gets the more nutrients it needs…..

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 2, 2014 at 6:37 am #

      Candy, I’m using lots of that ardisia this year in gardens. Hope it’s warm enough here but we had a record cold last night. J

  9. Avatar
    Laura L Davis November 3, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    This story seems to me to be sort of the human equivalent of a Blue Norther roaring through Texas. It can be tee shirt weather, then the temperature drops forty degrees in an hour and you’re freezing. The best part of the story to me was your pride in the young man who was taking responsibility and being the father, even though he’s only 21. Hope the family is doing well now.

    • Jenks Farmer
      Jenks Farmer November 3, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      I’m pretty lucky that my life seems to be like that!

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