I placed a purple orchid, a Phalaenopsis, on my coffee table a few days ago. As the rain falls, and a fire burns on this cold and dreary Sunday, I marvel at this flower, its origins dating back to the time of the dinosaurs! I feel as if I intuitively understand the deeper truths of life, the workings of the universe, with just one look at this flower.
The orchid, a stunning, delicate yet tenacious flower, takes my breath away and commands my full attention, to pay close attention to its long list of special needs or it will surely perish.
For those who know me, I can kill a cactus, so to dedicate my life to the care of an orchid is no easy feat. My husband, who has the green thumb in our family, promised to care for the orchid alongside me as I learn in detail every thing it needs.
Together, we read in earnest how the orchid performs best when given medium to bright indirect light; when the temperatures hovers between 65 to 75 degrees. It gets thirsty for water every 20-25 days, but its important for its roots to almost dry before giving it a drink; and it needs nutrients, a liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks; the list of needs goes on and on. I won’t go into what it needs to re-bloom, or you’ll end up buying fake orchids for your home from now on. But I am up for the challenge to hold fine company with these finicky flowers at every turn.
The orchid also reminds me to pay close attention to the needs and surroundings which allow me to grow and thrive: solitude, nature, writing, readings and reflections, human connection, new experiences, the four seasons that come with the rain, the sun. I take pause and wonder what my loved ones need to grow and blossom each and every year. They too, have their uniqueness and special needs. How easily we can gloss over this fact of nature. How quickly we want our loved ones to be different out of our own need to relate or connect, rather than stand in awe of their uniqueness and come to love our colorful differences.
Speaking of differences, I see red. I hear chirping. I look out the window to see a red breasted Robin bopping around outside in the cold. I wonder what it needs to survive. It shivers to generate heat when its cold. It grows more feathers for winter and fluffs them up to trap warm air around its body. Nature gives her what she needs, and they can survive just fine without us during winter, but she and her feathered friends still look for backyard feeders to help stay fueled. They need us and we need them. This is true and we are all mystical miracles.
I think about my favorite nature writers, May Sarton, Rachel Carson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau who found the answers to life’s profound questions in nature. These writers, especially Thoreau were famous for combining human life and the nature of the world in their journals/works. He was always rethinking his life, creatively. He was always asking questions, looking to nature for greater intensity, and meaning in his life, for the Ultimate Truth.
“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.– Henry David Thoreau