Travels and Thoughts

“I know about yanking up roots,” I muttered under my breath, “but this is not how I wanted to do it.”

“What’d you say?” My husband looked up from the newspaper, suddenly interested.

I stood at the table’s end on the lanai, looking out at my orchid collection. I had almost two-hundred—suspended from overhead hooks, attached vertically to the pool-cage beams, and clipped to heavy-duty lattices inside the screen. Knowing this damned RV would probably be in my life a long time, I’d just made a painful decision.

“I’m going to sell them. Most of them anyway.” I plopped down in a chair at the table. Weary. My arthritic knees screamed with every step.

“Really?” My husband jerked upright, his eyes wide. “You don’t have to sound so excited, Michael.” I sighed. “I guess to be honest, I’m tired of them, and I certainly don’t have the energy to take care of them these days.”

I belonged to a couple of orchid clubs, and I was a Master Gardener. With those connections, I knew avid hobbyists who’d rid me of every plant if I let them. Despite neglect, my orchids were disease and insect-free. I’d been growing them for almost fifteen years and had several specimen-sized plants. I knew they’d sell.

“I’ll help you get ready for the sale,” Michael said.

“Don’t know what you could do other than bring out the folding tables.” My husband knew nothing about orchids. I’d have to do this job by myself.


I began the laborious, tedious, and painful process of sorting the orchids into groups—those to sell and those to keep. I made half-hearted attempts to group by genre, size, and health. I would keep only a few for myself.

One of the local orchid societies almost cleaned me out. My sales success, however, wasn’t because of the beauty of my plants but rather because I’d priced them at bargain-basement levels. I practically gave the orchids away, selling them for little more than the price of the terra cotta pots in which they grew.

“Why are you selling them so cheap?” several people asked.

“I can’t take care of them anymore.” It was almost a moral issue for me. My parents had taught me to honor commitments. At some point, I’d committed to every one of these plants, and I’d now failed. It felt wrong to let a living thing languish. “Orchids deserve to be loved, and I guess I don’t love them anymore.

It hurt to see them go. Michael kept tallies of my earnings and kept telling me I should take him out for a steak dinner with some of the money. For years, he’d only half-jokingly said to our friends, “When I die, I want to be reincarnated as one of Gerri’s orchids. She spends more time with those damned plants than she does with me.”

I felt resentment with every sale. Although my enthusiasm for orchids had waned, it didn’t mean it wouldn’t return. I’d always gone through cycles with my interests, and orchids were no exception. But selling them was a permanent goodbye, and it wouldn’t be happening if Michael hadn’t bought this stupid RV.

I quietly raged, hating my husband for putting me in this position. I knew it was more complicated than just the RV though. Osteoarthritis had debilitated me. A knee replacement might restore my mobility, but it might not. I’d heard a fair number of surgical horror stories involving knees and allowed myself only guarded optimism about my upcoming surgery.

Then I had to laugh at the absurdity of my train of thought. Yes, my orchid interest could return full circle, and most titanium knees worked perfectly well. But I’d yet to see anyone recover from old age.