The aroma of a lavender farm on San Juan Island has made its way to downtown Geneva.
Drew Grennell and his father Mark have operated Pelindaba Lavender at 310 Campbell St. for the past month, essentially providing residents and visitors with what they call "the complete lavender experience."
That slogan fits, considering the store is stocked with lavender products that cover an array of uses -- culinary, personal care, therapy and pet care.
The Grennells get all of their products from that lavender farm in San Juan Island, off the coast of Washington in the Georgia Gulf. The farm operates as the centerpiece of the Pelindaba Lavender franchises in various parts of the country.
"The feedback from customers has been very positive," Drew Grennell said during a busy Saturday afternoon at the store. "People really love the look of the store and essence and feel of lavender."
The lavender products include teas, insect repellents, dog treats, skin moisturizers and natural cleaners, among others.
"Our teas have been very popular, and the skin moisturizers are selling well," Grennell said.
The key, he added, is the essential oil used in lavender as an insect repellent and topical anesthetic.
"The organic lavender hydrosol as a household cleaner or personal care therapy is an important product for us," said Grennell of the "Go Green with Lavender" trademark many of the products showcase.
You have to like the color and smell of lavender to start with, but this new retail spot at Third and Campbell is certainly unique and appears to be drawing curious shoppers in good numbers.
The Grennells travel into Geneva from Lemont daily, but find their new setting to be a perfect spot.
"The people here and the other local business owners have really embraced us and want to see us do well," Grennell said.
Making studio click:
There's no doubt the Water Street Studios in Batavia has advanced under the watchful eye of Executive Director Danielle Hollis. But she knows she needs the help of volunteers and community members to continue supporting the art gallery, education and special events center that the studio has become.
In a recent letter outlining the studio's accomplishments of the past two years, Hollis thanked the Dempsey family, owners of Batavia Enterprises, for helping Water Street Studios create an endowment fund with the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.
She also showed her gratitude for the volunteers on the studio board and its various committees.
Hollis didn't leave out those she feels are key players -- her facilities/events manager Jaime Gutierrez and Karine Bauch, the education director. She even points out that Gutierrez shows up for work everyday "with a smile behind his delightful handlebar mustache."
In other words, people notice when a co-worker shows up in a good frame of mind that lifts other people around them.
Here's to hoping the various business sponsors, community volunteers and supporters continue to help to the point that Hollis can write a letter like this every year.
Not really bats:
You may not even have to be a "birder" to find this interesting.
Reader Tim Klimowski, a member of the Kane County Audubon, tells me he has been studying chimney swifts that can be found in downtown Geneva and other Fox River Valley areas.
To the untrained eye, these birds look like bats swirling around in large numbers just before or at dusk, Klimowski said.
"Different people in downtown Geneva ask me if I am watching the bats, and they sometimes look at me like I am making this up when telling them they are chimney swifts," Klimowski said.
These birds fly around all day long and roost only at night inside of a chimney, he added.
"Many of us refer to them as 'flying cigars' because of their cigar-shaped body and small pointy wings," Klimowski said.
And these little fellows might have become some of my favorite birds, based on what Klimowski told me next.
"They eat large amounts of mosquitoes and other flying insects, and therefore are very beneficial to our ecosystem," he said. "Their feet are adapted to allow them to hang only from a rough vertical wall and cannot perch as other birds do."
Mostly, he's concerned that these birds are in trouble because old chimneys are falling into disrepair and are being torn down, though some chimney-like structures have been designed and built -- and those are becoming roosting spots.
Just keep running:
No one would ever mistake me for a dedicated runner, but I do participate in the "walk" portions of fundraisers such as TriCity Family Service's Snowflake Shuffle and the recent Great Western Freedom 4 event for Lazarus House.
But those who do watch for every running event possible get nice reminder postcards in the giveaway bags at these events.
Cards were reminding us of: the Summer Sunset 5K and youth races July 26 at Geneva High School; the Bob Leonard 5K/10K River Run in St. Charles on July 30; the Batavia United Way 5K Walk/Run and 10K Run on Oct. 28 at River and State streets in Batavia; and the Ooh La La Chocolate 5K on Nov. 5 in downtown Geneva, operated by the All Chocolate Kitchen for the benefit of St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
As for that ninth annual Snowflake Shuffle I mentioned earlier? That 5K and 10K run and walk is Dec. 2 at Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles to benefit TriCity Family Services. That's a new venue for this fundraiser, which was held previously at Mill Creek in Geneva.