the occasions lady and
the press time peace lily
by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Guest
Amidst scattered papers, countless magazines and stacks of bills, there is a plant in critical condition on one corner of my desk. A normal person would have tossed it out years ago, but I refuse to give up on it.
When my sister passed away 10 years ago, I received several beautiful plants from friends extending sympathy to my family and me. At Occasions’ previous location on Southwest Drive, we had several windows across the front of the building, so all of the plants ended up at the office, where most of them thrived. The fact that they are all alive 10 years later is no small feat for me.
Among those plants was a vibrant peace lily that became the most finicky of them all. If I gave it a little too much water, it wilted. If I waited until the soil was dry to water it, it wilted. If I moved it to natural light, it wilted. If I moved it to a room with less direct light, it wilted. I’ve had peace lilies before; they are not that difficult to maintain, but for whatever reason, this one is a true attention sucker.
Eventually, the plant became known in the office as the press time peace lily. As deadlines neared each month and we all became focused on getting the next issue to press, the peace lily would take a drastic turn for the worse. By the time we wrapped up an issue, it’s droopy leaves sprawled out like a sad plant in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Magically, after we went to press and were able to give it a little attention, it would spring back to life.
Sadly, since attempting to repot the plant last year and relocating it with us to its new downtown location, it is now approximately 99 percent brown. In yet another attempt to revive it, I recently trimmed it back and repotted the only portion of the plant with any signs of life in a smaller container and placed it under the lamp on my desk. There it sits naked with not a single green leaf, looking like a few pieces of scattered straw stuck in potting soil.
If it was a source of aggravation, I would have put it in the trash by now, but it’s more like a puzzle that distracts me from everyday stress for a few moments each day. Recently, I began giving it just a few dribbles of water daily, and although it is still in critical condition, it seems to be making progress. It recently sprouted three tiny sprigs of green, which I enthusiastically shared with staff members, who by the way, probably think I’m losing it.
It may still look like a dead plant to most people, but if you look closely, there is once again a sprig of hope for the Occasions’ press time peace lily. Sometimes the difference is just how you look at what is in front of you.