For years, I was bent on orchid ownership. Week after week, I wandered around as a distant observer in the floral aisle at our local Trader Joe’s. Once my intimidation dissipated, I’d move in closer to examine one of the deep-green leafed plants displaying round faces of velvety violet, white and beige-colored tones. The minute the icy cold surface of the ceramic white container penetrated the palms of my hands, the exotic orchid went right back to its proper position on the display shelf lightly sprinkled with dirt.
I hid my brown-thumbed hands deep in my pockets, and my skittishness left me darting in a straight-as-an-arrow direction toward the dairy aisle as if I had a sudden hankering for a 5.3 ounce tub of non-fat Greek Yogurt. I picked up my yogurt, moved swiftly to the checkout aisle and made my escape out of the store.
Having limited faith in my orchid care abilities, I was determined to build up my confidence. There seems to exist an association for nearly everything under the sun and, sure enough, on the internet I discovered the American Orchid Society.
If you sign up, you are gifted with a free orchid magazine, Orchid.
“In print since 1932, this magazine is treasured by tens of thousands of readers around the world.”
I knew I had come to the right place when I found a section earmarked for “beginning orchid growers.” It said, “If you are anxious to get going with orchids, check our quickstart guide to orchid culture, ORCHIDS 101. This article will give you an understanding of what is required for growing these marvelous plants!”
Pushing beyond my anxiousness, I learned everything I could about the sweet-faced anomaly until I felt empowered enough to take on the challenge of adopting one. About two weeks after Google brought me to the orchid society’s web page, I picked up an inexpensive flowering white orchid from Trader Joe’s and brought it home.
In the first two years, I received a gamut of advice from an assortment of orchid experts.
“Don’t wet the leaves! It’s fatal!”
“Don’t over-water! It’s fatal!”
“Put an ice cube on the top of the pot’s soil. Don’t touch the leaves. Don’t water it directly. It’s fatal!”
“Don’t keep it in direct sunlight. It’s fatal!”
Over the orchid’s last four-year life cycle, I am the first to admit that someone else should have taken custody of my orchid from the moment it came home with me. I confess that plenty of times, I’ve over-watered it. More than once, I’ve left it outside on the deck and forgotten about it until it ended up drenched in rainstorms. Other times, I’ve forgotten about it on the deck, and it was left in direct sunlight for so long that if it were human, it would have been hospitalized for severe sunburn. Other times, weeks passed before I remembered to water it.
Would you believe, four years later, it’s still alive? In fact, every year around the cooler, darker months, it never fails to gift me with a surprise of blossoms.
Through our trials and tribulations, I’ve grown attached enough to the orchid that I’ve determined her to be a female and have named her “O.” As in, “OH! She’s still alive.”
O’s life cycle brings credence to some of my mom’s favorite adages:
In this case, “You can do it all wrong, and it ends up all right.” (On the other side of the token she would say, “You can do it all right, and it ends up all wrong.”)
Recently, one of my fellow bloggers was discussing the idea of “what is for us cannot miss us.”
I had never heard that phrase before. In regards to my orchid, it was meant to stay alive and no one, not even a brown-thumbed mama was going to change the course of its life span.
Now, that I’ve said that, it has taken a bad turn and it may be dying! Seriously. In the last two weeks, its leaves are falling off, and it has taken on a skeletal appearance. In fact, if it were a human, I think we’d be headed to the nearest ER for some oxygen therapy.
Time, of course, will tell. Orchid magazine and the society can no longer help me in this rescue attempt.
I do know that my O reminds me of an important life lesson in faith. Life will happen sometimes in the weirdest, most shocking and unfair and sometimes unrelated ways to our plans as possible. In other words, when we think we have it all figured out, we are thrown into a dunk tank of life.
This crazy O of mine through the years seems to whisper to me to “Leave it alone. Let things play out. Allow things to happen naturally, organically. Step outside on the deck and breathe. Green thumb, brown thumb or no thumb, have faith that the outcome is ultimately not in your hands.”