This week, whenever I needed to take a break from my writing, I usually went for a walk in the forest near my house, in search of the elusive Calypso Orchids in bloom this time of year. The orchid takes its name from the Greek word ‘calypso’ meaning concealment and only grows to be about three to six inches tall with one single leaf at the bottom. They are petite, delicate plants and are very susceptible to disturbance, even considered endangered in many states. With small pink or purplish flowers, they tend to favor sheltered areas on the conifer forest floor, preferring the moist soil of the northwestern old-growth forest. I have only found these flowers, native to North America, here and there, solitary gems peeking through the moss and fungi soil.
Today, I set out to find as many as I could; careful not to unsettle the soil around them. I smiled every time I noticed one; their showy rosy-pink pointed sepals and two pink petals above a hanging lighter pink slipper. I counted twenty-three.
I’m inclined to think of Calypso Orchids as special somehow –a flower to be revered, never picked or trampled upon. A flower that should be left untouched, kept in its natural state –safe, protected. Last year, whenever I saw one, I thought about my sister who died in December 2020. I still think of her from time to time, and it brings me great comfort when I see those fragile, graceful flowers popping out of the earth reminding me that for everything there is a season – a time to love, a time to weep, a time to die, a time to mourn, a time to heal, a time to laugh, and a time for peace.
Eight delicate Calypso orchids
bloom under two large hemlock trees
their fragile pink petals open to the sky.
The soggy, damp moss underneath
yields to my soft touch
and the orchid’s stems tremble slightly in the breeze.
I remember you dying alone in a room
away from family and friends.
To take your last breath in this pandemic
gives me no peace.
I watch the wildflowers for a moment longer
before leaving them untouched
to grow and die and live again.
How did you find solace this week?
© 2021. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved