I plucked my day the minute I chose not to hit the snooze button, again. The minute I rose to my feet and took in the
spring calls of songbirds and the gentle temperature that told me I didn’t have to wear a coat. Realizing this with leash
in hand I remembered last year one day later not feeling this way. It was rather awkward really, walking around in the
hot humidity of the greenhouse with my winter jacket tied insecurely to my waist. I fiddled again and again, clutching
at it and re-securing the knot that was never meant to be. I was awkward then too with my camera bag, not so this time.
Phal Hybrid 816 (won a 2nd place ribbon)
The anxiety remained over coffee and breakfast; I still felt like I needed to be
there the minute the pin dropped, knowing I wouldn’t be. A little bit of chocolate
milk added to my instant mocha-cino made things a little sweeter. Fruit smoothie.
Some avocado and garlic-salt enhanced low-fat cottage cheese. So far so good.
Positive decisions. Dog walked. Batteries charged. Bag packed. Breath taken.
Ready to go.
Driving the 20+ miles this time I knew to some extent what I was getting into, and I looked forward to it even more. Of
course my Orchid addiction spoke first, but then again it was also smarter to head straight for the vendor tables before I
busted out my camera. I mean come on, I gotta get some good ones right? Yeah, I know it was a good move. (Hopefully
they all let me leave my plants behind – safely – while I wander the exhibit and the show – do I tell them for hours? That’ll
be a point of contention for me, trying not to dwell. I keep thinking about that Vanda, my first, sitting lonely in that plastic
bag – they told me it was the last one – waiting for me, wondering if I’m the right fit for it. Am I?
Vanda Wirat x Kultana Blue
The sun is hot, heck the room is hot. It’s hot with the sun speaking loud and proud from its position up on high. It’s hot with
the excitement of beautiful exotic flowers, many most have not seen, then many, many of us have seen but can never get enough
of. It’s hot with all the bodies filling up every space on the walkways, down the stairs and in front of the most impressive blooms
and displays. I hold the hand of my patience like a precious child, don’t let it get too far away lest you lose it.
There’s a woman telling
her daughter and all who
will listen that her hus-
band always gave her
corsages made of Cymbi-
diums for the dances they
attended. All the dances.
She says that back then all
the girls had Cymbidium
corsages. I shuffle behind
listening with the warm
heart of a girl holding tight
to the knowledge of gran-
dma. Smiles, that’s what
I’ve got for you. Oh and
the fact that I wish there
were more Cymbidium
corsages today, less
carnations and roses,
sorry guys I’m biased.
Some, oh I don’t know, 15 minutes or so later I’m behind them again. She tells the warm sunny fragrant orchid-
owned, orchid-obsessed, orchid-addicted air that her husband used to give her Cymbidium corsages all the time
when they were young. Young teenagers. I didn’t know anything about orchids then. If I’d had a Cymbidium
corsage back then I wouldn’t have known it. Always loved plants and flowers, you know green stuff like that,
but I didn’t know – dare I say nor care – what they were. Honestly, beautiful was enough. Fantastic is enough.
Gorgeous, smile-inducing is enough, would you argue? It’s not that they aren’t anymore, no no, just the opposite.
Fantastically beautiful will always be enough, but as I age so does my nerd-dom; I want to embrace the fine details,
the stories and backgrounds behind what is more than fantastic, it’s life.
Half an hour later, maybe more, probably more to be honest, I pass the older woman’s daughter doubling back with my regular lens – as opposed to my 100mm prime Macro – to get more shots of the larger scenes, we pass smiles like a handshake. Even later still I’m picking at my watch in my mind, counting the minutes praying the vendors didn’t think I forgot and gave up my plants. Out of the corner of my eye there they are. She tells her daughter and the world as far as I’m concerned that when they were teenagers her husband always gave her Cymbidium corsages. All the kids had Cymbidium corsages. I’m admiring the bulldog Paphiopedilums wondering if I should get one after all – I didn’t, this time – and pretty sure there aren’t really any Cymbidiums in this part of the exhibit. Are there? I breathe in her fond memory, the lightness of it feels fragile in my youth-courting lungs.
She is a memory to me now and I can live inside her repetitions. They take me to another place. The observer and writer in me blooms into a calm and gentle imaginative state. What is this? Is it Alzheimer’s? Is it just a mature version of me telling my boyfriend a story I’ve already told him? Will I tell him when I’m 85 again and again about the woman whose husband gave her Cymbidium corsages for dances when they were young? Will I tell him how I encountered them over and again slipping into her memories. I look at a Cymbidium, I’d like a corsage now. I strap on this memory and wear it around the exhibit flashing it to her. Will I always tell the people who will listen what I see, what I’ve seen, and what I know?
But I get to move on. I build a memory onto four shots or five or six of the same flower because I just can’t get the color right.
The bane of my Orchid photography shoot: inaccurate colors. The most I can do for these plants that do nothing special but just
be themselves is at least get their colors right, tell the truth about what I saw. Someone sees me, another woman, younger this
time. She’s from the Philippines. She wants to know if I can take a picture. Sure, sure, of course. How many times have I wanted
to stop this person that person, that couple those sisters and offer to take their picture for them, together, so they can solidify
today at the Orchid exhibit, together. But I never did. Insecurity, like trying to keep the shell of my winter jacket last year tied
around my waist when all it wants to do is slip off. I’m no real photographer I keep thinking. One of many I wander around with
this fancy thing wondering if it shouts out things about me that I’d rather keep quiet. No, no I’m not as fancy as my camera makes
me out to be. I hold a memory in my hand that is my little brother, pestering me about where I’m going to be. When I finally gave in,
gave up my whereabouts, I found a box that would become my wizarding tool. I embrace it now, we’re great friends. I think to myself
how long we’ve been together, gosh almost four years. The Cymbidium corsage on my wrist sheds a fragile tear, that’s how long it’s
been. Would he have wanted to come along for this spectacle? Surely this Cymbidium corsage memory is another bright ray of sun-
shine penetrating my fragile shell.
The woman says, “and I can take yours”. It dawns on me I’d never thought to have my own picture taken. Never thought to pose
as if these exotic things and I should remember each other together. I guess I never thought to close the gap. But sure I let the
cheery lady take my picture after I take hers. She’s rather happy with at least one of the pictures I took of her, so happy her
laughter is a bubbling Cymbidium corsage again and again. The light’s too bright when she gets me, but I can tell you I’m pretty
happy too that I have proof I interacted, participated and wasn’t just a blurred face behind the camera, greasing up the LCD
screen. Ha, don’t you know she even said “Let’s take a selfie!” Strange as it is, this woman I’ve never met excited to be recorded
and meshed into the scene, tucked into the crazy colorful flowers, I said sure. Probably a Cymbidium corsage memory for the
taking. But God took me and folded me into a corsage and tucked me onto the wrist of this life I walk around on. I embraced
the Illinois Orchid Society Show and Orchid Exhibit. I absorbed the sights like the rhythm of a dance. I took a picture and had a
picture taken and saw in the playback that I have grown, I’ve sent up a spike, come into bud, and opened blooms to inspire.
In reflection, I am better than the woman who took the Orchid
walkabout last year. My eye, my talent, and my appreciation
have improved. Dare I say my talent even? (No need to men-
tion my collection has grown exponentially as well.) Creativity
and talent are orchids, they take years to germinate, develop,
mature and spike. Years to wait in anticipation for every new
growth’s new blooms. They are orchids that always live with
the potential to stun and amaze.
Phal. Tying Shin Golden City