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March 17, 2014

A Canuck in Kantuck: In the market for a fern

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — My orchid Yvette is dying and I don’t know what to do. What’s more, I’m not sure I care anymore. It’s been one thing after another in the past six months and I’ve had about enough of her high maintenance. But let’s not tell her that, shall we? Yes, let’s keep that to ourselves for now. God knows she’s sensitive enough as it is.

I got Yvette as a gift three years ago, and I was both thrilled and scared to receive her; all I had ever heard about orchids was how difficult they are to care for. But I was willing to give it a go, so I sat her on the hearth of the fireplace and started giving her four ice cubes a week.

Shockingly, this alone seemed to work and Yvette flourished, not only producing flowers on two spikes each year, but even growing a baby, which intense Internet research taught me is called a keiki. Sadly the baby didn’t survive transplanting, but Yvette lived on, tall and strong and really quite beautiful.

Watching an orchid can be interesting. They do absolutely nothing most of the year until suddenly something happens and they start growing again. And not any kind of growth, a parade of Chinese lantern-shaped pods from which bursts, let’s all agree, the sexiest flower there is.

During those weeks, while I marveled at this growth, I patted myself on the back for being such a great caretaker, since the only way Yvette was doing so well was of course because of my superlative maintenance of her.

Then in October, we got the gas fireplace fixed and, because it was a chilly fall, we turned it on quite a bit. Yvette absolutely did not like this, but because she is rather passive-aggressive, didn’t say anything or show any signs of distress.

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