Night Blooming Cereus and the Computer

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza

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Night Blooming Cereus and the Computer
Epiphyllum are the gems of the cactus world. Commonly called orchid cactus, they produce absolutely stunning flowers. The delicate blooms open only briefly and produce an entrancing scent. Names for the pink variety like this one are “Unforgettable,” “Millennium,” and “Ophelia.”
The brilliant pink Night Blooming Cereus blossomed the day my computer crashed. This plant, has moved and lived with me for a long time and I never bothered to learn her name. I sent a photo of her to a friend who just moved to France and she wrote back with the name. I was excited and started to surf on my iPhone, but, wait, I had a computer to tend to. But who? It just so happened that someone raved on Nextdoor about Taylor Cahill, who does computer rescue and repair. For whatever reason I wrote down the contact information. Turns out, he lives just around the corner. Serendipity! He told me to shut down the computer so as not to lose all my files and walked over to diagnose the machine whose digital lifeblood produces pages and pages of The Canyon Chronicle so we can deliver it to the community every two weeks. “Your hard drive is dead,” he said. It was three or four days as he diagnosed, analyzed, bought an external drive, restored as many files as possible—I lost a lot—and replaced the dead hard drive with a new one. I went outside and stared at my beautiful Cereus blossom to shake off the panic and self-loathing. The bowl she resides in now sits on my old toilet that was replaced, left in my front yard and never made it to the county’s bulk pick-up. When it does, I’ll have to find a beautiful pedestal to set her on. Time spent without a computer came down to hand-writing some articles. I hand-wrote notes to go with the checks to the printer and other bills, and to friends. Cursive handwriting is out of vogue and the writing I do is usually quick scribbles of notes, or sometimes writing poems on a legal pad, where it doesn’t have to be pretty, just serviceable. I’d like to do more of it. In between restoring my cursive writing skills, the badly-timed loss of the computer during production week was a gift of time to complete projects I hadn’t finished, do some much-needed housekeeping, cleaning, laundry, and take an equally necessary shower. I walked Tom cat and Tippy dog twice a day as usual, and was surprisingly relaxed, except for a distant roiling in my gut that whispered, “You’ll never get the paper out. “Hush,” I said. And, I admired Cereus as two more dinner plate-size blossoms appeared. Cereus isn’t that pretty when she’s not blooming. She has long, flat, leathery leaves that can endure neglect and dry spells. The plant is a cactus, much like the Christmas cactus but bigger and no thorns. Cereus, I learned, also likes to be root-bound and crowded in the pot. My neglect paid off! She is also prolific, persistent in her will to live and propagate. She has sat in the sun and baked with little water and survived. I have given those leaves to many friends. Just lay them on the ground, cover the callused end with a little soil, and they root, I tell them. Cereus is slow to bloom, but in a few years, she will blind you with her night-blooming beauty once, maybe twice a year. She cultivates patience in that sense. The blooms only last a day or two, so she also cultivates loss of something you love and want to live forever, like some friends who have moved on. Meanwhile, it’s good to appreciate the beauty of our planet. A friend called and wanted me to come admire her new roses. So I did, despite not having written this yet and feeling uninspired. The visit changed that. So did Taylor Cahill. Friends are another kind of earthly beauty. Essential. —Flavia Potenza
Flavia Potenza

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June 11, 2021

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