For most of my life, I hardly noticed orchids. Years ago, my husband was given one that must have been blooming when he got it, but if it was, I did not pay attention. That flowerless orchid has sat by our kitchen window all this time, somehow not dying. My husband watered the bloomless plant whenever he remembered, which was every few weeks at best. The truth is I didn’t keep track. I didn’t care. I had a whole house of other plants to water and prune and re-pot as needed. And I had our dog who needed a regimen of medicine and had for many years.

Shuly Cawood

Shuly Cawood, Community Voices

Then this summer, one of our dog’s eyes got an ulcer, and my days became a schedule of eye drops along with her familiar regimen of pills. She started wearing a cone. Around this time, I determined that my husband’s orchid needed re-potting. I became fixated on giving this orchid a new lease on life, and I tried to find a nursery that could do the deed. I finally handed the orchid over to someone with know-how and gentle hands, and she put the orchid in a green ceramic pot with slits down the side—no more plastic cup with holes—and she taught me how to mix a gallon jug with fertilizer, how to pour the concoction without reservation over the leaves, how to let the plant drain til there was no liquid left.

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