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The Orchid


Egg foo young on my face:  It seems I am always confessing something.

I am sure I told everyone about the evening we hosted our landlord and his wife for dinner.  I think I also mentioned the many gifts they brought us, including a beautiful butterfly orchid plant.

I have never kept orchids.  I have never lived in a climate that was even remotely friendly to orchids.  I know nothing about orchids.  Neither does Chas.  He immediately began removing the plastic protecting the plant.  Upon seeing this, Mrs. Soeta rushed into the room and made it clear the plastic should remain in place.  We got the message; assuming the plastic was to keep in moisture.  The plastic stayed.

When presented with this beautiful plant, my first and greatest fear was keeping it alive.  For the first week I gave it steam treatments in the shower every morning.  After a week, I worried about water.  I tested the plant with a probe and found it very dry.  When I moved the moss aside to water the plant, I noticed the floral Styrofoam.  I found it curious that there should be Styrofoam.  However, knowing nothing about orchids, I assumed the Styrofoam might be in place to keep in moisture.  There must be soil underneath.  I watered the plant.  The plastic stayed.


Yesterday, after watering the other house plants, I carried the orchid from its place of honor into the kitchen to check it.  I inserted the probe; it registered very wet.  That was curious.  I noticed the plant had not changed.  I was delighted to see the blooms were still beautiful and intact.  I noticed that none of the buds had opened in the two weeks we had had the plant.  That was curious.  In the stronger light of the kitchen I continued to inspect the plant.  The stems looked oddly like plastic.  Cautiously, so as not to harm the plant, I squeezed a stem.  I squeezed a bud.  I squeezed another bud.  That was indeed curious.  The stems and buds were plastic.  I gently touched a flower.  I pressed a little harder.  I squeezed a flower…another one.  The flowers were silk.  I removed the plastic.

I sat down and laughed.  The Japanese are floral artists.  I thought the plant was real.  Chas thought the plant was real.  Obviously, Mrs. Soeta, by her urgent actions, thought the plant was real.  Does Soeta-san think he bought a real plant?  We might never know the answer to that question.  I’m not going to be the one to tell him it isn’t real.  I’m just going to continue to enjoy this beautiful work of silk art.

The good news?  I don’t have to worry about killing the orchid.  The bad news?  How do I dry out the wet Styrofoam? - Bobbie