If Orchids Are Promiscuous, Philodendra Are Whores

Very little that I write in this blog has anything to do with the title. I have always wanted to write a story using this title but never came up with one. There is, of course, a short history behind it that I will share.

The Conservatory at the Huntington Museum of Art is known locally for its extensive and extraordinary orchid collection—the result of its horticulturalist, Dr. Mike. (It also has some nifty poisonous frogs and axolotls.) In a lecture to the docents, Dr. Mike suggested that orchids are quite adapt at cross pollination, creating huge varieties of flowers. In his words, they are promiscuous.

Not long after attending Dr. Mike’s talk, I traveled to south Florida to visit friends who happened to be landscape growers. Over dinner, I shared my newfound knowledge of the plant world, specifically orchids. “Whoa,” exclaimed Ron, a botanist and grower. “If orchids are promiscuous,” he stated, “then philodendrons are whores.”

I remembered this conversation when I again visited my south Florida friends. It had been a while due to the travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic. In those few years between visits, friends have died; others are fighting cancer, dementia, and disability from diabetes among other ailments. We all have aged in isolation with various degrees of success. Getting together and remembering happier times and conversations was comforting and even healing. One friend texted me, “Your visit made me so happy. Wish you could have stayed . . .  like . . . for what time is left for us.”

Connections. Connections, with a healthy dose of kindness, are what will sustain us during this time of COVID, mad politicians, and the world’s autocrats.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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