PORT TOWNSEND — A few moments after the last pink rose was placed, a woman stepped forward to draw a heart on the pavement and write a name inside.
The name was Steve, for Steve Haysler of Pittsburgh, Pa., and the woman was his sister-in-law, Dena Turner of Port Townsend.
She, like millions of others across the world, lost her loved one to COVID-19. Then she found a place to pay tribute to him.
On Monday morning, Lexi Koch and Lisa Leporati, both of Port Townsend, joined the Floral Heart Project, a nationwide effort, and constructed a garland of flowers beside downtown’s Haller Fountain.
Beginning at 8 a.m. and working quietly for another 2½ hours, the women arranged a heart shape of shiny green salal leaves, ivory miniature chrysanthemums and some 300 roses.
Erin Scabuzzo, also of Port Townsend, took photographs and chalked “COVID-19 Memorial” on the concrete above the multicolored heart.
Then the women decided to leave the chalk behind for people like Turner to write small remembrances.
“Since it’s a memorial, I think we’ll have it here for just the day,” Koch said.
She and Leporati planned to take the heart down around sunset.
“I’m looking at it,” Leporati said, “as a place to come and take the moment for reflection.”
The pair worked together like two hands. One bloom at a time, the heart took shape as they clipped the roses’ long stems and gently peeled the petals open wide for maximum impact.
That’s called “reflexing,” said Koch, who owns a local flower farming business, LexiMara.com.
Leporati is an ideal partner in this project, since she runs an event design firm, Mabelmakerdesign.com. When she and Koch heard about the Floral Heart Project — rose garlands laid in cities from coast to coast — Leporati approached Holly’s Fine Flowers of Port Townsend.
The shop donated roses, while Seattle’s Mayesh Wholesale Florists provided additional flowers at a discount.
As for the two heart makers, Koch and Leporati gave their time and skill in hopes of giving passers-by a burst of beauty.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]