Sunday, January 27, 2013

Joy-filled Sadness of Orchids

 I really don’t have much of a green thumb.   But I do like plants around.  The ones I care for are pretty self sufficient, requiring little care and attention. The Christmas cactus, the philodendron, the ivy, and spider plants all get treated equally with a bi-weekly watering, every other Monday.  I don’t talk to them or interact, really, in any other way.  I am their foster mother, providing only the most basic of nurturing.

Last year, on April 4,  I bought an orchid.  The smallest one I could find.  It was, of course, perfectly in bloom.  I welcomed it into our home and promised that I would take very good care of it.  I read the instructions on the tag.  I looked for a perch that would get just the right amount of light.  It apparently did not like to be in direct light, but rather it preferred a space which would provide, instead, a more constant light.
I fussed over it and whispered "good morning" and "good night".  I checked every day to make sure it was appropriately nourished. After about ten days,  I started to notice that the plant didn’t seem as healthy as the day I brought it home.  The once bright green leaves were becoming dull and dark.  I moved it to a different spot and assured myself  that it would have a better chance of thriving if it sat on different window sill.
I didn’t realize how delicate and precious this little plant was until its pink and white petals began to fall off their stems.  One by one, each of its prefect blooms withered and fell gently to the floor.  Left only with two dull leaves, a skinny wooden stake and the instruction tag, I sadly decided that the little plant had lived the best of its life.   I tortured myself with pangs of regret, wondering what I could have done or should have done differently.  Perhaps if I...
I considered throwing the plant away.  There really wasn’t much point in holding onto it, after all.  But, after all, I had brought it home on April 4.
So, once again, I moved what was left of the little, now orchid-less plant to a more private location, to the sill over the big bathtub.  The blinds in that room are always shut all of the way.  I twisted the wand a touch to let in more light.  Whenever  I caught a glimpse of the little plant, though, it made me sad.

In my always sadness,  I feel the pain of light’s jabs.  It intrudes with rudeness into my world of soft white gauze and gray flannel. It prods and pokes. It nags at me with constant reminders of young smiles.  It sneers and mocks when I grieve for so many lost dreams.
As I look through the kaleidoscope of my life, I shield my eyes from those brilliant light shards.
I wonder if I will ever again want to dance to the music of  mambo reds, sway in time to ocean green tempos or prance under ice blue skies.
Teases of sun yellow slivers glide in through nearly, but not tightly shut slats, as they try to entice me out with promises of warm hugs and gentle kisses.

About a month ago, I began to notice growth on the little plant.  Roots were sprouting and spreading reaching for the light, as if trying to catch breaths of air.  Soon, I began to whisper hopeful "good mornings" and tender "good nights" again to the little plant.

When I noticed the new shoot, I realized that it didn't look like the other roots.  It was also reaching for the light, but couldn't quite stand up straight; slightly bending instead from the weight it was carrying.
On the end of the stem were little puffs of folded up green hands holding and protecting something precious.  Soon, timid stripes of pink and white began to peek out from their protective hands, each day, getting stronger.
Now, they are in their full party dresses and sassy as they dance in the light.

The little plant that I brought home on April 4, now makes me smile, just a little.

I know I have many joy filled lights in my life patiently waiting for me to come out to play.


  1. Bravo! I know the feeling all too well, having killed several orchids. I've only gotten two to rebloom over the years (including one blooming right now-blogged about it several days ago) but I keep hoping I will get the hang of orchids one day.

    1. Thanks. Perhaps it is just a matter of patience. I have the same problem with African Violets. But they look so beautiful when they bloom, I keep on trying.

  2. Orchids tempt me, but I haven't succumbed yet. Lately I've had pretty good luck with cacti-- and what does that say about my personality?!
    Flowers always speak to me of hope, and your orchid is perhaps telling us to be strong, and beautiful in our own ways.

    1. For me that little flower is a sign of hope. I like what you said about it being an example of strength and individuality.

  3. This is a wonderful post, Lynda! I love my orchids and find them very easy and just plain beautiful. I have several on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, one in the kids' bathroom and one in the window at work. The thing is that I learned a long time ago not to give up on orchids. They will come to you with the most beautiful blooms and the blooms will last several months (pretty darn good right there for a $7.99 flower from Trader Joes). When the blooms eventually do fall off, I just allow the plant to be. Just be. And I practice patience. Somewhere down the road, the blooms will return. Very hopeful. Good things do come back.

    1. Thanks, JT.
      I have to do a little research about my little orchid. What do I do with those rogue roots that are spreading and wandering outside of the pot? Is that a sign that I should put the plant in a bigger container? I will have to check that out.

    2. Yes, I know those little roots - I don't do anything about them.... just stick them back in the pot! :)