The first real orchid I ever saw came in the mail from Hawaii. Bill the sailor sent it to my parents’ home where I was living in Albuquerque waiting for him to get out of the service. I unpacked it slowly, carefully, and admired it in the box packed for its trip to the mainland. It looked like ones in this photo and the accompanying note called it a Vanda Orchid.
Before I lifted it out, I brought the package up to my sniffer to see if it had a fragrance and it did. What a joy! I learned later that not all orchids do. If it was close to Sunday, Mother may have pinned it to the dress I wore to church. The flower didn’t last long, but the memory did. Bill and I have been married for fifty-nine years. I must remember to thank him again. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Bill, for the orchid and for the bouquets from the florist and the flowers you’ve grown for me. I think you like them as much as I do and that’s an extra bonus.
One Friday, my friend, Melody and I went to Kiwanis Island off Merritt Island to visit an orchid show called, I Dream of Orchids.
We couldn’t stop snapping pictures, Melody from one of her two cameras and I from my iPhone. She wanted to purchase an orchid for her husband’s mother who raises them in Georgia, so she talked to the growers about the details of shipping. I had no idea it was such a big deal, and in my mind thanked Bill again for the special one he had sent in 1958.
The first person Melody talked with told us he was a lecturer on the subject. He is an engineer, he was born in Viet-Nam, but has lived in Melbourne all his life. His name is Thanh Nguyen and he will send orchids by mail. His phone number is 321-223-6173 if you want to talk to him about it. He doesn’t have a website because he spends every spare moment on his beloved orchids. He says it takes a lot of effort to pack a plant for shipping, but if you want the materials you can buy them from him. Among other materials, he listed cotton-packing and heat-wraps. Mr. Nguyen says orchids survive the trip, but if they were shipped with blooms, the blooms will die. Never fear, says he, they will come back exactly the same in the next blooming.
As I dreamed of orchids I recalled another one a different gentleman arranged for me to have. It was this way: Bill and I more or less eloped. We invited our families to the wedding in California, though. Both of our dads were traveling men. Bill’s mother flew to California where Bill was stationed. I had gone with a family she’d known a long time in their VW fan and stayed at their house. My Aunt Jenny drove my mother and cousin. I had ordered a gardenia bridal bouquet, but when we picked it up, it had a wonderful white orchid at its center. My dad had called and changed my order. He wanted me to have the best. My wedding orchid looked like this one.
After we moved to Florida, orchids began to collect themselves on our porch. Every time we saw a good buy we bought. They took a minimum of care, here in Florida, and lasted for many years. But then they came to a place where they were going to need transplanting and I, being a casual plant owner, decided to find good homes for them instead. I gave them to three friends at church, each of whom cared well for hers and gave me thanks and reports for many years after. One friend put hers on a tree in her yard where it thrived. I think orchids make people happy, no matter what.