A Blooming African Violet

My father-in-law likes to rescue our house plants. A longtime lover of plants he inspects them all during the course of his weekend visits, advising, praising and criticizing. He has watered our plants. Repotted our plants. Washed our plants to rid them of little pests. His most recent rescue was our African violets.

They had all but stopped blooming. I had tried more water, less water, more sunlight, less sunlight—nothing worked.

He pulled them out of the soil and started them anew—two little violets with two little root systems plopped in shot glasses filled with water on our windowsill.

The roots soaked up the water and we refilled the little shot glasses for months. The leaves got bigger and I purchased some soil specially formulated for African violets from our local gardening center. I repotted them. Guessed the amount of water. Guessed the amount of sun. And waited.

Today, I spotted a lovely purple bloom.

Thank you, Marty.

“That queen of secrecy, the violet.” —John Keats


My orchid is blooming. It was a Valentine’s Day gift from Andy last year. We only do cards for Valentine’s Day, so it was unexpected, as are all good surprises. And it’s the first time an orchid I’ve owned has ever re-bloomed without me killing it first. Per the instructions, I put a couple ice cubes in the pot every few days—nothing more, nothing less.

I like to pretend I’m an optimist but I’m not. I was skeptical, so skeptical that once the first blooms fell to the marble tabletop and I cut the stems back, I pulled out the propping stakes. I remained skeptical as two new stems grew in deep curves, never properly staking them. And now the stems are heavy, bent with the weight of beautiful, bright white blooms.

Sometimes (a lot of times, if you look for it) good happens.

“Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.” —Sheenagh Pugh