Our old house had a greenhouse attached to the downstairs back room. It challenged me to grow plants to brighten up drab, frigid New Jersey winters. No matter how gray and gloomy those days were, it was always warm and comforting in the greenhouse.
I grew orchids: a plant invented to make us all feel cheerful and optimistic no matter what outside conditions dictated. And winter was the orchids’ favored blooming time, making January through March as bright as spring.
One early morning I entered the greenhouse to water the plants. The night before I had filled several gallons with water and left them near the heater to warm up. Mustn’t shock the orchid plants with ice cold tap water! This morning the temperatures were perfect for watering.
This was the most relaxing time of the day: quiet, peaceful, and delightfully free of telephones ringing. I started with the small plants, already in bud. They took extra care and more frequent watering because of the small amount of shredded bark their pots held. They needed watering more often than their larger buddies did. Time floated gracefully by, and soon I was ready for the larger orchids, the Cymbidiums. As I raised the watering can to the surface of the flower pot I had the sense of something moving.
Glancing down at the potted plant I saw a long, slim, green snake wrapped around and around the main stem of the orchid plant. I let out a scream loud enough to interrupt flight patterns of migrating birds!
Instantly my large, lumbering long haired Old English Sheepdog raced downstairs to rescue me from any dastardly monster. He was on alert, standing in attack mode, ready to fight to the finish, even though he had no idea what or whom he was there to fight. But he had come to my side to help. It was such a loving, caring, instantaneous reaction from this sweet animal.
Next to respond was my drowsy husband, slowly clomping his way downstairs to learn the cause of the noisy disruption of his peaceful Sunday morning.
“Look: a snake! Right there in the cymbidium pot,” I shouted hysterically.
Unimpressed, he glanced at the offending pot.
I expected some words of comfort, wanted some acknowledgement of this terrifying discovery. Maybe a sympathetic,calming hug. His great words of wisdom and kindness, however, were:
“It’s more afraid of you than you are of it.”