LIFE UNFOLDING BEFORE MY EYES

As you may recall, I purchased some Painted Lady caterpillars a while back as a diversion during the state “safer at home” orders during the pandemic. The caterpillars arrived along with their “muck in a cup” (or pre-made food).

After about ten to twelve days, the caterpillars crawled to the top of the cup in which they arrived and started to form the tell-tale sign that they were about to form pupae. The tell-tale sign that signals the beginning of this stage is seen when the caterpillars begin to look like the letter J, as they prepare to bundle up to make a case which is attached to the cup lid by a silk pad they have fabricated. After about twenty-four hours of hanging upside down, the caterpillar skin splits off and exposes a case or pupa.

Seven to ten days later, the painted lady breaks free from its pupa and metamorphisis has been completed. During this stage, the adult structures are formed, and finally the pupa has now turned into a butterfly that needs to dry his wings before he can fly.

Wings dry and harden after about twenty-four hours, and the butterfly continues his life for about two weeks during which the butterfly can travel up to one hundred miles a day at thirty miles per hour. The butterflies can mate around five to seven days after emerging from the cocoon, and the female can lay as many as approximately five hundred eggs in their short life time. Eggs are singly laid on a host plant, such as thistle, mallows, hollyhock, legumes, and others. Once the butterfly reaches the adult stage, their diet includes many nectar plants, such as blazing star, cosmos, New England aster, Joe-pye weed, Mexican sunflower, purple coneflower, and zinnias. They will visit other nectar plants, though, including red clover and milkweed, too.

In our home, when we woke up one morning to find that the first one of our pupae had hatched into a butterfly, there was a great deal of red exudate on the side of the net cage. This exudate is not blood, as many people think, but is meconium, which is waste products of their metamorphic activity.

Shortly after, a second butterfly emerged before we knew it, about a half hour later. We decided to watch the remaining pupae and actually had the good fortune of actually seeing a butterfly emerge from its pupa stage. It was a magic moment, watching life literally unfold before our eyes.

After giving the painted ladies some orange slices and sugar water on a cotton ball on dish in their cage, we decided to let them go free. It was yet another magic moment for us, as my daughter reached inside their cage, and the each butterfly crawled onto her hand in order to be released.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” -E.B. White

If you are interested in raising butterflies, I would recommend you order a kit with pre-mixed painted lady food to start (“the muck in a cup”). Now that we’ve gotten the butterfly “bug”, we plan to raise butterflies from eggs to caterpillars, then caterpillars to pupae, then pupae to adult butterflies. Each type of butterfly needs a certain host plant to lay eggs upon, but there are often many nectar plants that they will eat from as adults.

Three valuable sources of information and supplies can be found at:

butterflydans.com

shadyoakbutterflyfarm.com

butterflyworkx.com

We have been busy gathering a few host plants and many nectar plants for containers around our yard and likely will try malachite butterfly eggs next.

” And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

Life is good; find something new in some hidden spot that excites you. Carpe diem, friends………

THE VALUE OF A MOMENT

Food for thought today………….

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

-Dr. Seuss

“Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through
Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you”

-“Memories” by Maroon Five

Life is good; enjoy the moment….. ALL the moments…..

Carpe diem, friends.

THE BLESSING OF AN INSPIRATION AND OF A FRIEND

Wall mural and bike photo taken in Amsterdam, the “cycling capital of the world”

I have an amazing friend who lives in another part of the world. He has a certain “joie de vivre” that I can’t possibly explain. I have been fortunate to have had the chance to break bread with him and share a laugh or two over a short period of time. When he smiles, the world smiles with him. My friend recently went on a bike ride while going for a short get away while he was seriously ill and feeling very tired. He was equally tired of all his body has been through with his illness, yet he managed to find joy that day. An explorer and a traveler, my friend adjusted to his status at the time, adapted to what he could do, and revised his conception of adventure during this week end. A picture of him riding his bike that day is one of my favorite pictures of him, as it captures his essence somehow. This friend makes me smile again and again. The world is a better place, in part, because of him. The world is also a funnier place, too, because of him. He knows how to live well, and I admire that in him. He enjoys the love of his beautiful family, great food, travel to exotic places, and reading. One of his favorite songs is “Oh What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and it has always been one of my favorite songs, too. My friend is an inspiration to many people, including me. I will keep this photo of him etched in my mind and heart forever, feeling fortunate to have had the good fortune of spending time with him, even if a short time.

my strong and funny friend

Today, thinking of my friend, I decided to get on my bike, as I used to really enjoy riding my bike and haven’t done that in a while . Seems like it’s been a long while since I went for a bike ride in the neighborhood. Too long. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of this earlier as I try to find something new or re-connect with something that I used to do as often as I can during this pandemic and self-isolation. It seems pretty easy to social distance on a bike.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”

-John F. Kennedy

(photo taken in Amsterdam)

Perhaps I’ll go for a little longer bike ride tomorrow. Perhaps the next day will be even longer. Maybe later in the week I will put the bike on the bike rack on the car to go for an even longer ride. No time like the present. Makes me think of a reply I once heard when I asked someone what time it was. The reply was simple; the person said “the time is now.”

“It is the unknown around the corner which turns my wheels.”

-Heinz Stucke

(photo taken in Zaanse Schans in the Netherlands)

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein

Life is good. Find something you used to love doing and haven’t done in a while today. Live fully, live life well, and enjoy the moment, using some inspiration as your guide if you have one.

Carpe diem, friends………………………….

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ANGEL ON THE TOP OF A CHRISTMAS TREE I HAVE EVER SEEN

Although it is only May (already), my thoughts turned today for some reason to an anecdote that I hold dear in my heart. When I was first married many many years ago, my husband and I had so many wonderful discussions about how we would begin our lives together. Because we got married in September, it seemed that the holidays would arrive before we knew it. We began talking about our first Christmas Tree together, and we visited a local farm in New England, which has since closed, to find, tag, and cut down our own tree.

It sounded like such a fond memory even before we went to the farm, and it was every bit as wonderful as we thought it would be. There is something so tender about finding a tree together in the snow and dragging it off the field after going on a hayride or sleigh ride to get to the field in the first place. I think we even had the classic Hallmark cup of hot chocolate afterwards.

Some of our compromises that seemed like such difficult concessions at the time really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things I’m thinking now. It is so very easy to get caught up in the mundane at any stage of our lives, to give importance to the unimportant and somehow miss what is right before our eyes. I have learned since then that life is far too important to be taken so seriously. It doesn’t really matter to me whether we have garland or ribbon, tinsel or no tinsel, ornaments that all match or are mis-matched, or even Christmas lights that are all white or multi-colored, as long as we spend our Christmas season together with those that we love, laughing, baking cookies, and creating new memories and traditions while remembering the old ways fondly, too.

We decided somewhere along the way that we would have a photo ornament that represents each year that we have been married, in good times and in bad, and THAT is something I would decide to do all over again.

Our discussion at the time many years ago, however, turned to whether we would have a star or an angel on top of our first tree, as we set out to purchase our first ornaments together to decorate our tree. Growing up in the same city, there were many similarities, as well as differences, to our upbringings, but both households had an angel on top of the Christmas tree. That made that decision very easy, and an angel it was. While we were walking through the store to find the perfect angel to top our perfect tree, I remembered the angel that sat on top of the tree in the house I grew up in. Christmas was a special time for me, as I was the youngest child, and the youngest in our family had the privilege of being the one to put the very last decoration, the angel, on top of the tree. For years and years, my father lifted me up on his shoulders to accomplish this task. This made me feel like I was on top of the world, which I really was because my parents were the center of my world at the time.

Because my parents had moved out of state before we were married, there was no angel from my childhood to show my husband, as my parents were still using it on their tree in another state. I tried to find the words to describe to my husband how very beautiful the angel was, dressed in a gold dress with perfect pleats. The size of the angel was just perfect, too, neither too large nor too small. The angel’s hair, with it’s perfectly flowing and uniformly curled hairstyle was not like any more modern angel I had ever seen, either. The angel was, in fact, the most beautiful angel I had ever seen, and I would be hard-pressed to find anything at all that would compare in anyway to this angel from my childhood. We settled on a pretty angel, but she held no proverbial candle to the angel from my childhood in my mind.

Fast forward to a few years later. My parents sold their home and started using a smaller, table top tree, that many seniors use after growing tired of puttting the tree up and taking it down again in such a short amount of time, after having taken it up from the basement for many years, year after year. My parents decided when sorting through their decorations they would no longer need that it was very clear that the angel from my childhood should go to me. Time to pass down the baton, so to speak. One day when I went to visit them, my parents unexpectedly presented me with a cardboard box, flat and brown. I recognized the box immediately, as I removed the angel gently, very gently, from her resting spot between Christmases, before putting her on the tree each year. When I opened the box, I was surprised to see that the angel from my childhood was a little “worse for the wear” than I had expected, and the perfect pleats on her dress were a little imperfect. Her hairstyle was a little messy, and her arms were a bit bent. Not only was she a little old, my perfect angel wasn’t so perfect after all. In fact, I was shocked to see that she was a bit ugly, too. Her facial expression wasn’t nearly as beautiful as I had remembered, maybe even a little creepy, but I was oh so very grateful for the gift.

When I came to the realization that the angel wasn’t quite what I made her out to be in my mind all these years, I smiled. I realized that she was the most beautiful angel in the world on top of any tree that I had ever seen, mainly as a child, because of all the love, laughter, and happy memories at Christmas with my family that made her beautiful to me. While I can’t quite bring myself to put the angel on top of my tree now, I keep her in that same flat, rectangle, cardboard box from many years ago, among my present-day Christmas decorations. She serves as a reminder of where I have come from, who I came from, and what makes Christmas, and life, meaningful. I also have come to appreciate the need to see as much as we can through child-like eyes to see the beauty from time to time. Even if the angel is quite ugly, she is still so beautiful in so many ways, because of what she represents. And timeless memories of years past with those we love, even if deciding on unimportant things which seemed so important at the time, are priceless.

Life is good. Carpe diem, friends…………

photos: Dreamstime

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A LANTERN

Lanterns have been used throughout the ages for many things. First and foremost they have been used to light up a dark area. They are the inspiration for many festivals around the world, especially in Asia. They remind us that the light they yield can bring us out of darkness, if we follow the light, both literally and figuratively. Finally, lanterns symbolize joy, celebration, good fortune, longevity, and protection (from evil.) Lanterns have also been associated most recently with knowledge, finding one’s way or helping another find his or her way, light over darkness (or good over evil), intelligence, and even truth.

It’s uncanny to me that “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, and I discovered by chance recently that we both had seen lanterns made out of cans independently and both wanted to make them some day. Someday is today, whenever I can make it so. To that end, we have been washing out cans from the vegetables we stocked up on for the pandemic. Seems as though we’ve been eating our fair share of canned green beans. Probably even more green beans then we ever wanted to eat. Probably even more green beans than we ever will eat again. That being said, we put some water in the washed cans and froze them overnight. This makes punching holes in the cans easier (and safer), as the can is less likely to roll when working on it.

After we decided on our designs, we put the can on a towel to prevent it from rolling while we were working on it and to catch the water as the ice melted. The internet is full of can lantern patterns, so we looked on the net for inspiration. Some people spray paint their cans afterwards, too.

With a hammer and a nail, we punched a hole through the pattern we taped onto the can. This project takes just a few minutes and yields a lot of fun when doing it together with someone. “Teen Traveler” makes me laugh so much that tears flow from my eyes, and this project was no exception. Ice from inside the can broke like an iceberg off a continent while we were hammering the nail, and the ice slid (and sometimes flew) out of the can. The pattern from the can became wet and disintegrated after a while. The project looked so easy to those that had gone before us to do this very same project. The more the project didn’t work out according to our plan, the more we laughed. Life isn’t perfect, as they say, and neither is this seemingly easy project. I am reminded of something Alan Alda, and American actor, once said he wished he had told his younger self years ago. That is, the need to “adapt, adjust, and revise.” We adapted the pattern we wanted to use. We adjusted the pattern we had chosen, as it was far more complicated than we originally imagined to accomplish. Finally, we revised our plan to fill the yard with a barrage of lanterns we would make and hang from the tree. Maybe just two is plenty, afterall….

I wanted to think of some clever poem or song about lanterns to provide us with some inspiration, but then decided that simply being together with my teen daughter doing something fun was inspiration enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is what it is, and what it is was beautiful.

Life is good; find a way to make something wonderful with someone you love today. Create beauty and recognize the beauty of the moment.

Carpe diem, friends………..

IMAGINING ALL THE POSSIBILITIES FOR MY BACKYARD TRANSFORMATION

Today after seeing the partially assembled pergola in my back yard, I sat under it right after a rain shower and noticed a beautiful rainbow right above my eyes. I am so grateful to see such beauty developing right before me.

As I continued to sit under the half-constructed pergola, I couldn’t help but feel the world of possibilities developing before my eyes in my mind. How exciting it is to envision a big project such as this. I am thinking of all the ways to transform the pergola into an oasis of peace and tranquility. I’m picturing lights hanging from the pergola, maybe a candle chandelier, along with some hanging pots of orchids or new guinea impatiens. I want the pergola to evoke a sensory experience with something scented, colorful, and something I can hear. Perhaps a new set of wind chimes, too. Should I have a counter-height bistro set or a low comfortable L-shaped sectional. Should I have a few chaise lounges? There are so many possibilities to consider.

As I sit here, I remember getting excited like this when we bought our first home about a few millions of years ago. It has been quite a long time since we’ve done a project like this in our own backyard, and it feels nostalgic quite honestly.

I continue to sit, watching the darkness crawl in before my eyes while I remember a poem that describes the fog crawling in similarly on little cat feet (“The Fog” by Carl Sandburg). Sitting in front of the pond behind our house, I notice all kinds of noises and sights I don’t normally see when I sit in the screen deck by the pool. I see gnats swirling around en mass in a frenzy within some sort of twirling and twisting cloud. I see various birds taking off from the water, barely disturbing the surface as they glide gracefully into flight. I hear splashes in the water as some long-necked birds swim underwater, but it is growing too dark to tell what type of birds they are. I’m thinking they are likely either cormorants or anhingas. Both birds swim in the water, but cormorants are usually found in salt water, and anhingas are usually found in fresh water. Both have long snake-like necks, but the tell-tale sign is the beaks, which would help me identify them if it were not quite so dark. Cormorants have roundish hook-like beaks at the end, but anhingas have straight beaks, although both hunt and eat fish.

I consider myself lucky to have this little sliver of time of solitude and peace while the world is in turmoil from the pandemic around me. It helps me to find a little slice of “normal” within each day, and that means finding a little smattering of beauty before my eyes.

Life is good; life fully and completely, and find a reason to be grateful today. Try to see the beauty in something today and enjoy the moment.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………………

Feel free to comment below with any suggestions, pictures, or ideas about how I can transform my pergola into an oasis of peace and beauty.

(Note to self: ask the landscaper trim the shrubs AGAIN)

LIFE THROUGH A LENS….LIVING WITH LADYBUGS DURING THE PANDEMIC

yellow flower petal with ladybug under blue sky (credit: Dreamstime)

I just did it. I ordered fifteen HUNDRED live ladybugs for release into the yard. I began thinking of some new ideas to do during the pandemic while we continue to self-isolate. I love watching the butterfly caterpillars we have growing in the house, looking each day for subtle changes in them. Watching and waiting. Watching and waiting. I wondered what else we could have growing in the house during this hot Florida spring and decided that ladybugs would be amazing to watch, grow, and release. I looked on Amazon and found this kit:

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Ladybug Garden, picture courtesy of Amazon.com

I love this kit, as it has three magnifying glass lenses (for 3x magnification) on the top of it, which will help to really notice the amazing changes in the ladybugs as they grow. I love watching life through a lens. The kit contains a voucher for about ten live ladybug larvae, too. I decided that ten is not nearly enough ladybugs to eat the white flies and aphids I have growing and eating in my yard, so that’s why I ordered the large, no VERY large, order of live ladybugs in the meantime.

ladybug (credit: Dreamstime)

“The ladybug wears no disguises.

She is just what she advertises.

A speckled spectacle of spring,

A fashion statement on the wing,

A miniature orange kite,

A tiny dot-to-dot delight.”

-J. Patrick Lewis

The ladybug kit, Amazon assures me, will arrive at my home on Tuesday, May 19, and the live ladybugs will arrive on May 29. The kit will arrive WITHOUT the butterfly larvae, however. I will have to order them separately after I receive the kit, using the voucher that is provided along with the kit.

“Life is a series of tiny miracles. Notice them.”

-Roald Dahl

(photo credit: Dreamstime)

“Ladybugs all dressed in red, strolling through the flower bed… if I were tiny just like you, I’d creep through the flowers, too!”

-Maria Fleming

(photo credit: Dreamstime)

Evidently legend has it that ladybugs are associated with good luck, changes, divine intervention, and a happy resolution to something troublesome. The Celts associated ladybugs with protection, and in French folklore legend has it that whatever ailment you have flies away when a ladybug flies away from you. The French, as well as the Austrians, also believe seeing a ladybug would be correlated with good weather. In Norway, if a man and a woman spot a ladybug at the same time, legend has it that there will be a romance blooming between them. A rare sighting of a yellow ladybug, according to yet another legend, signifies upcoming travel, adventure, and a new chapter in one’s life. Swedish folklore tells us that if a ladybug lands on a young woman’s hand, she would be married soon.

There are also some religious meanings associated with ladybugs as well. In fact, some say the origins to the ladybug’s name, originally known as “Our Lady’s Beetles”, is the result of a reference to a prayer made by farmers in the Middle Ages to the Virgin Mary to keep their crops safe from swarms of pests (aphids). When the ladybugs arrived, they thought they were sent from their prayers to the Virgin Mary, and they called them “Our Lady’s Beetle.” Some say the common number of seven spots on the lady’s back are associated with the Virgin Mary’s “seven joys and seven sorrows” as described in the Bible.

It has also been said that lady bugs in the Jewish religion also have religious meaning. The Hebrew word for ladybugs is “Moses’ Cow”, as there is an old Yiddish legend in which Moses encountered these beautiful creatures when he was sitting in the Garden of Eden studying the Torah. When the ladybug asked Moses why he had spots, Moses replied that the spots represented God’s words and deeds. Also, a common number of spots on the lady bug, seven, is symbolic of the six days that God created with world and the seventh day that he rested. If a ladybug has only two spots, it stands for the “Two Tablets of Jewish law (the first tablet was written by God, and the second Tablet was written with Moses). If a ladybug has ten spots, it represents the ten commandments, and so on.

Ladybugs are some of the most beautiful and appreciated beetles in the world. They help us by eating pests and are the stuff of legends. When I look at my new ladybugs when they arrive, I will remember their association with good luck and protection. I can’t wait to release them into the world so that in some small way, I am doing my part to make the world a little bit better than I found it.

Life is good. May you find good fortune and may any ailment at all, or any ailment from the pandemic (physical, mental, or otherwise), fly away from you if and when you see a ladybug land on you during some enchanted evening or magical moment.

Carpe diem, friends…………..

WORDS TO LIVE BY AND MAKING MEMORIES


I love when I stumble upon joy. Pure joy. Today while driving with my daughter, “Teen Traveler,” we saw a whole group of people social distancing a whole different way. In the water, we saw dozens of people kite-boarding and experiencing true joy. I can only imagine how that must feel with the waves splashing beneath your feet while you are pulled literally in whatever direction the wind blows. I imagine it feels free, exciting, peaceful, liberating, and joyful all at the same time. It was almost poetic watching these kites and their owners making a memory today before our very eyes. Made me think of a poster I have hanging in my house that reads:

“Make a memory

Smile for no reason

Create joy

Pay it forward

Dance without music

Wax poetic

Laugh until you cry

Win with grace

East Dessert First

Count your blessings

Say yes to chocolate

Take the high road

Make someone’s day

Celebrate everything”

-Author Unkown

Life is good; carpe diem friends………live fully, live well, and create a memory today.

(Note to self: look into kiteboarding and surfing lessons…………)

SOCIAL DISTANCING WITH SCENIC SUNFLOWERS WHILE THE SHADOWS FALL BEHIND YOU

Happy Mother’s Day y’all. Today I wanted to get out of the house to do something different. Several years back, we had traveled throughout Tuscany looking for sunflowers. I never realized they were right in our own state in such numbers. “There’s no place like home,” it’s been said. Traveling to Sledd’s u-Pick Farm in Mims reminded me of that saying. Although the sky was cloudy, the bright yellow sunflowers provided a beautiful contrast against the otherwise dreary day. It took my breath away when we pulled up to the farm and saw sunflowers in such number.

Sledd’s is a pick-your-own farm in Mims, Florida, offering a large field of sunflowers that you can pick yourself, as well as a sunflower maze this time of year. While many of the sunflowers have already been picked and some are past their prime, more sunflowers will be available to pick again in June.

Sledd’s charges five dollars per person for entry into the field and then charges for the sunflowers you pick. Prices are two dollars for the first sunflower stem, three dollars for two sunflower stems, and five dollars for three sunflower stems. Remember to bring your own scissors, as none are provided for you. Also, come prepared with cash, as this is the only form of payment they accept. Plan ahead by checking their Facebook page, as hours change greatly due to weather and unforeseen circumstances as well. Keep in mind, also, that there are only port-a-johns on site and only a little structure under which to make payment. This is a small family farm without any kind of gift shop or visitor center that offers other pick your own crops at different times of year, such as tomatoes, berries, and vegetables as well.

Like a single sunbeam on a warm summer day, there is an exuberance and a brilliance of a sunflower.” -Author unknown

When we arrived, we were amazed at the numbers of people that were standing in line (without six feet between them) to pay for entry into the field. No attempt was made to remind the visitors of the need for social distancing, and we saw only two other families with masks. We were glad we brought along my husband’s N-97 mask from his workshop, which we took turns sharing and went into the field one at a time. Once we got into the field, however, we could stay apart from others to keep our social distancing.

I’m thinking that this place might be less crowded on a week-day or any other week end than Mother’s Day. Seems as though lots of people came with their mothers for this charming pick your own activity. Social Distancing might be easier at another time.

I couldn’t help but notice my daughter “Teen Traveler’s” tee shirt, which suggested the need to “Bloom With Grace” when she was walking around the field. That’s my girl; such attention to detail. Such sage advice. My daughter, the old soul.

Sunflowers are symbolic in China for longevity and long life, and I am reminded of the pandemic which began in China while walking about the field, hoping for long life for the citizens there and everywhere. My mind wanders also to Vincent Van Gogh, who said he found “comfort in contemplating the sunflowers.” I also found comfort among the sunflowers after being essentially cooped up inside for weeks during our “safer at home” pandemic orders here in Florida. It felt so good to be among such a bright backdrop of living, thriving beautiful plants today. There were lots of bees on the flowers, and watching them on the sticky sunflower heads was fascinating. There was such peace for that moment in time, and it felt wonderful to be a part of it. It felt like life goes on, despite all that is going on around the world at the same moment.

“…You’re making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower
In a world that’s crumbling, all around us everyday
You are, all the inspiration that I need to find my way…

You’re, making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower
You’re, making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower….”

-“Sunflower” by Lenny Kravitz

Helen Keller, an inspirational writer who was born both deaf and blind once wrote

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” ~ Helen Keller

I contemplate this as I think about the days ahead with the pandemic. Helen Keller’s advice, along with the old Maori proverb that says to “Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.” I look forward to brighter days ahead when we can return to some semblance of normal after the Covid pandemic is behind us. In the meantime I remember that life is still good, even now.

Carpe diem, friends……..and turn your face to the sunshine today while you get out to live fully again. May the shadows fall behind you, or may you at least not SEE the shadows today.

ORCHIDS, A NEW HOBBY DURING THE PANDEMIC

I have completed my furniture refinishing projects around the house, have cleaned out some cabinets and closets (but not THE remaining closet), cooked lots of food, made ice cream three times in the last week, gone for multiple walks, laughed so much that my belly hurt, played lots of board games and lastly decided I need a new hobby. I was a Master Gardener, having completed the Master Gardener Program in the Northeastern United States when I lived there, but never really got into gardening here in Florida. It seems so odd to me that the shrubbery surrounding my home are actually HOUSEPLANTS in New England. I also have been petrified of snakes here, living near a pond. However, I really miss the day to day joy of watching something grow before my eyes, noticing subtle changes unfolding from day to day. Sure, I have pots of plants outside with flowers and vegetables growing, and I also have an Aerogarden in my home, but I need something new to look forward to in the plant department while I am cooped up at home.

The French have a saying, “vouloir c’est pouvoir”. Where there is a will, there is a way, loosely translated. This is a saying imbedded within my soul. While many stores and garden centers are closed here near me while I am continuing to self-isolate, I found a local garden center that does curbside delivery. Just like the restaurants. I can order on-line, pay on-line, and pick up my plant on a table set up in front of the garden center, having no contact with anyone if I plan my departure from the car perfectly. As long as we have HOUSEPLANTS growing in the yard, I might as well add another HOUSEPLANT to the trees.

I have long admired orchids growing in trees in tropical areas while on vacation, so I wondered if my gardening zone (9b) could tolerate orchids attached to trees. I noticed that someone dear to my heart has an orchid growing in her front yard and didn’t realize it until recently. She is really my inspiration for my new hobby. I began to think…….. I have a beautiful Southern Magnolia tree in the back yard, near the pool, and decided a splash of some bright pink might be a bit of whimsical fun poking out from the leaves of the tree. I did some research and found out that dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis orchids do well attached to trees, without pots, in my area. I selected a variety of dendrobium orchid called “Oshin Pink”, which is a pink and while orchid.

“You are never too old to set a goal or dream a dream.”

-C.S. Lewis

First I leaned the orchid against the tree to get an idea of the size and scale of both.

Then, I took the orchid out of the four inch pot, leaving some dirt mixed in with the roots. Some of the sources I consulted said to use plastic plant ties to attach the plant to the tree, and others said to use biodegradable cotton string or twine, but I simply used what I had in the garage (thin nylon rope). I wrapped the rope around the plant, starting first at the roots, then attached part of the stem to the tree as well. It took all of five minutes to do this. Some sources said you can add in some coconut fiber or bark to the roots to hold in the moisture, yet other sources said that might encourage rot and disease, so I opted not to use any. I read that it is important to spray the orchid with water daily for a week, so we’ll see how it works out. This side of the tree is a eastern/southeastern exposure, which can be pretty hot in the summer. I started out with one orchid first to see if it is in the proper placement, but the garden center told me being in the shade of the Southern Magnolia tree would provide the relief from the hot sun that the orchid needs, regardless of which side of the tree I plant the orchid.

I was so excited when I finished my new project for my new hobby. Adding a bit of excitement to any day is always a good thing in my opinion. I love having something for which to look forward. As Mark Twain said, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where all the fruit is.” In my case, that’s where all the flowers will be. Always feels good to me to try something new, and I try to see something I love, touch something I love, smell something I love, hear something I love, do something I love, or eat something I love each day. In this tree, I can see something I love, hear something I love, and I’ve already done something I love within five minutes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

-Lady Bird Johnson

Life is good; start a new hobby or find something that adds excitement, joy, and change into your daily routine to give yourself something beautiful to look forward to while you self-isolate.

Carpe diem, friends……………