Upon arriving at my current job, I was given the gift of a little plant with pink flowers inside a wooden box, hand-painted with an abstract flowering farm and hunter green ball feet. I also found that a small cactus had been left at my desk, presumably by its previous occupant. I appreciate gifts and cash prizes. I do not, however, appreciate unwittingly becoming responsible for the well-being of another living thing; let alone two. Although no explanatory card accompanied either plant, I did my best to water them regularly and talk to them a little. Plants enjoy being talked to, right? Maybe I've just seen that Rick Moranis movie too often.
Anyway, everything was going fine until the weekend. I came back to my gray cube on Monday morning to find shrivelled, not-really-pink-anymore flowers drooping over the edge of their hand-painted box. The now rather limp cactus' tiny flowers were still very pink, but also very dry and resting peacefully atop the potting soil. You see, my gray cube isn't near any windows and therefore receives no natural light. This situation works well for my fair complexion. My new green friends are not so sun-shy, though.
The flowering plant slowly never recovered. I even moved the flowering plant closer to the cactus, hoping the cactus' tenacity might magically cross-polinate the flowering plant or something. The cactus wasn't doing particularly well, either, but it wasn't getting any worse, so that's good.
Eventually, people walking past my gray cube would slow down or stop to remark on the sad state of my plants. I'm sure you can empathize with just how peachy that made me feel. I decided that I must be over-watering the cactus. One thing I do know is that cacti don't need much water, and cutting down on the water was something I could easily handle. Therefore, two waterings per week as opposed to the former five waterings per week. The cactus recovery plan lasted but one week, as the cactus did not take it well. I'd had no idea that a cactus could droop so much. They always look so tall and proud out in the desert.
I renewed watering the cactus daily. The flowering plant became completely dried up and I had to admit to myself that it had died under my care. It had been a cute gift with happy little flowers, and I had allowed it to die. I couldn't bring myself to toss it, though. I think I had an unspoken hope that some fantastical plant fairy would flutter along in the night, leaving me a bright green leaf sprouting from the grayed potting soil.
Then one day, a co-worker swooped in like Plant Welfare to save my cactus. She asked what I had done to bring the cactus to such a state. I lamented the lack of natural light. She sat near a window and decided to take my cactus into her custody, for the good of the plant. I smiled and thanked her and felt very guilty that my plant tending situation had come to need outside intervention.
Without the cactus, I at last gave up the ghost on my departed flowering plant. Unceremoniously, the brown plastic pot that had been hidden by the hand-painted box was dropped into the brown plastic waste bin under my desk. I went to lunch. By the time I got back, the custodial staff had taken the dry little corpse with them. Aye, me!
For two weeks my co-worker gave me updates on my cactus, like some ransomed child. "You'll get it back when it's ready." That's just so specific. Plus, I experienced the joy of said co-worker explaining my un-green thumb to all of our other co-workers. Fun for the whole office!
While I was dropping off some faxes, the Plant Welfare co-worker declared that my cactus had recovered enough to return to my care. Its ceramic pot was pleasantly warm from sitting on a window sill for two weeks. The plant itself looked considerably healthier than when last in my gray cube. I am hopeful that it will one day look as proud and sturdy as those cacti along Highway 15. More pervasive than the hope, of course, is the deeply rooted belief that my cactus will again begin slowly dying up on my gray cube shelf for all the office to see. The Plant Welfare co-worker will return to chastise me and again take my cactus for her own. Work-related stress is unbearable!
Posted by quantumfoam
at 3:55 PM PDT