I have a hard time admitting that a plant once intimidated me. But in my defense, it wasn’t just a plant, it was orchids! They’re exotic—they have their own rules.*
Everyone I know has a different way of taking care of them and they’re pleased to advise you: “Water them every two weeks.” “Only use half-a-cup of water.” “Put the pot in a water bath for a few hours every week.” One orchid came with a label that said to place three ice cubes on the soil once a week—really?
I water mine weekly and I use more water than everyone says I should. Why? No reason except that I’m getting flowers. For the past four years one of my orchids has bloomed with an array of flowers and when they finally fade, one of the other plants has amassed buds that start their display of blossoms, and when those finally die off, the last plant starts to flourish with its exotic flowers. It’s an endless procession of beauty that makes me happy I got over my intimidation.
But nothing prepared me for what is happening this year: All three plants are flowering at the same time, simultaneously, in unison. I have an explosion of color. It feels like I hit the jackpot.
Somehow, what I am doing is working and the plants are thanking me by flaunting all their beauty, and it’s thrilling.
It makes me remember my father’s love of antique clocks. His collection included eighteenth and early nineteenth-century clocks that were exquisite. Each one had it’s own perfect spot in our home. He’d admire each one for its own unique beauty and the remarkable craftsmanship the horologist had to hand-make the mechanics of the clock that could still tell time after hundreds of years.
My father would fine-tune each timepiece, striving to get the perfect balance so they would all tell the correct time. His passion was driven by his need to have his clocks chime in unison.
All the clocks he’d acquired chimed in their unique way. Some would strike at the hour, some at the half, and others either at five after the hour or at every quarter hour depending on their style.
That is not as easy as it sounds when you are dealing with pendulums, balance wheels, and gears that are all handmade. When the balance wheel is correctly adjusted, the gears keep the mechanism synchronized while others are tasked to move forward in equal jumps in order to move the clock’s minute hand one perfect second at a time, creating that audible tic-toc that accompanies all mechanical clocks.
At the hour when the chimes would start, my father would listen in anticipation and excitement, hoping his tinkering had worked and the diverse chimes would start reverberating at the same time. Inevitably the delicate instruments were not perfectly synchronized and he had to go back to adjusting.
His passion was fueled by his belief that the quality of the craftsmanship in these beautiful clocks was so good that all it would take was the perfect adjustment.
He wasn’t wrong in his belief that beautiful things made with love were perfect and all they needed was to be cared for with that same loving care. His tinkering worked on a few occasions and he was rewarded with the harmonic sound of the simultaneous chiming of these century-old objects. Thanks to his passion, the rest of us, his family, were also gifted with that pleasure.
What about you?
What have you tinkered with endlessly?
Have you gotten results that were worth the wait and were better than you ever imagined?
I'd love to know your thoughts.
Here is a similar blog post you might enjoy reading. GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
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* I need to add a note about orchids.
Generally, they love the sun and not a lot of water. What's important is to watch your orchid to see if it's happy. Happy orchids grow and flower. If yours isn't flowering you need to adjust the light and or the water until they gift you with buds. The trick as far as I'm concerned is to watch and learn what they want.
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