The Cat’s Meow
Categories: flowers, living, love

“I said to myself — I’ll paint what I see — what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it — I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.” Georgia O’Keefe

By: Michelina Docimo

Two years ago, a cold December, my sister asked if there was anything I wanted for Christmas.  I never ask for anything but I love how she asks anyway, maybe because she feels guilty about sending her list so early in November.  This time, rather than nothing, I asked for something because I needed something.  An orchid.  Simple, I know, but that’s what I wanted and that’s what she gave me – a Phalenopsis one (because there are so many genera).  And it was stunning.  Two white plump blooms and over the course of the new year, more bursts of white.  It was sometimes difficult to look at, it was so beautiful.  I love to look at orchids in their face, to study the streaks and spots on their labellum and peer into their gaping style – a cavern of deep color, like their soul.  Orchids seem to speak in meows; they have whiskers and pink noses, simultaneously exotic and domesticated.

As the blooms began to fade, I held onto them for a few days before I let them go completely.  Months passed and I expected new blooms immediately but nothing grew.  As a master gardener, I was acting like anything but.  More like an impatient child throwing tantrums because I wasn’t getting what I wanted to see – everything in white.  More months passed and I would pass by, neglecting it, then at times inspecting it to see if there was any sign of new life.  The stem that held the blooms became dry and brown and barren, but it was still beautiful.  I didn’t want to cut away the part that had died and let it remain part of living plant; it became a memorial structure, crooked as it was.  Finally this past April, I cut the dead stem and moved the plant to a west-facing picture window that looked out to a magnolia and Japanese maple.  The light was more diffuse, at times direct, but for the most part a glow.

Within days, a stem began to emerge, slowly at first, but then at a wily rate.  Every afternoon, I would come home to half an inch more of stem, then buds, then more stem.  I thought, this plant is teasing me now.  Finally, on May 27th, my orchid bloomed again… after two years of waiting.  Amazing what will grow in the right light.  First it was one bloom and then a string of eight blooms.  Every morning, actually at any moment, when I walk by I feel renewed, hopeful and I begin to wonder when will it meow again.

By: Michelina Docimo

Photos by: Michelina Docimo


1 Comment to “The Cat’s Meow”

  1. [...] used this quote before when writing about orchids in The Cat’s Meow because I enjoy taking the time to peer into a flower’s face and really study what is inside. [...]

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