Sheltering in place with orchids
Senior citizens like me are required by COVID-19 quarantine rules to stay home under some kind of house arrest, or as it is euphemistically phrased, “shelter in place.”
Even for seniors, sheltering in place entails a drastic change in lifestyle equivalent to slowing down and practically abandoning socializing with your friends and doing everything you used to enjoy. So after a daily barrage of bad news on the coronavirus spreading, government officials thieving, industries shutting down, and millions losing jobs, you long for calm, peace, and quiet.
Some seniors find tranquility in prayer, meditation, yoga, or reading books. To kill time, others binge on Netflix or take long naps.
Gardening is calming. So is growing fruit trees and vegetables in the backyard. For me, sitting in the front garden under the early morning sun is most relaxing. The quiet time alone gives me the chance to observe each day the flowering plants — such as orchids — growing there.
Before the quarantine lockdowns when I frequently left the house to drive off to somewhere, I hardly noticed the small clay pots attached to the tree in the front garden. I wasn’t aware that those various-sized little pots contained orchid plants. And when an orchid plant would bloom as the climate cooled in November, there was only a stem or two producing slim violet and white flowers.
None of us in the family is an orchid expert. As far as I know, all of us, including the gardener who would come twice a month, largely left those orchid plants alone aside from occasionally watering their little clay pots.
So imagine my amazement when, in the midst of the community quarantines and sweltering heat this June and July, more orchid varieties started blossoming. I wasn’t even aware that more than one orchid plant was growing in our front garden!
The first batch consisted of two stems of white and light purple orchids shaped like stars shooting out of the clay pot. A few days later, there appeared purplish pink orchids and, almost simultaneously, reddish purple orchids on flower spikes hanging out over the sidewalk.
Most astonishing of all were the little yellow green orchids with smaller dark purple flowers in the center. Whoever knew that there are yellow green orchids?
I had always thought that orchid plants demand a lot of care and special attention in order to bloom, but here were several varieties thriving by themselves despite perpetual exposure to the sun, thunderstorms, and typhoons.
It reminds me of the verse in the Bible: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Orchids are not lilies, they are more splendid than lilies.
The tree to which their little pots are attached gives our orchid plants some shelter from the elements. According to gardeners.com.how-to, most orchids bloom once a year, but if they are really happy, they may bloom more often. Perhaps our orchid plants are happy living attached to a sheltering tree, and will delight us once again later this year with new flowers?
Another internet source says that people love orchids because not only do they add elegance and mystique to a place, they also promote a sense of calm and act as a stress reliever.
This was reason enough for me to post photos of our blooming orchids in my Facebook page. At a time like this when instability and fear of an invisible, deadly virus prevail, FB photos that create a calming environment are most welcome.
An orchid’s bloom can last for weeks or as long as one month. Observing orchid flowers from day to day and noting when they begin to decay and eventually fall lifeless to the ground can inspire intimations of mortality.
Like orchids, we bloom in the prime of youth, glory in the strength and maturity of adulthood, and start to wither with the onset of old age before we die.
An orchid plant, however, can live for as long as 100 years. Under God’s loving gaze, it will continue to bloom once or twice every year of its life, and delight its beholder.
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Aida Sevilla Mendoza, 80, wrote a weekly motoring column in PDI for 28 years (1987 to 2015) and still occasionally contributes articles to PDI Motoring. Her “Unforgettable Legal Stories” have been compiled into four books, the latest of which was published in 2016.
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