The stomach flu took me out last week with an intensity that convinced me I would never eat anything ever again. Even the fresh ice water with a straw that my two children took turns bringing to my room and leaving at my bedside posed a threat to my insides. I wasn’t sure which was louder, the wicked Nor’easter that rattled my windows or the intense migraine that pounded inside my head. Crackers, ginger ale, chicken soup, applesauce – I wanted no part of any traditional get-well-soon food. I told the kids to leave it all in the kitchen.
But after a three-day, self-imposed quarantine, I emerged from my room feeling weak and cautious and ready to get water on my own from the kitchen tap. Sipping from my cup, I glanced around the room. Evidence showed that my teen-aged sons lived off cereal, Girl Scout cookies and take-out from the local gas station/convenience store while I was sick. In addition, their hunting and gathering for food must have left them no time to put dishes in the dishwasher or to take out the trash while I slept.
Not wanting to face the housework, I considered another self-imposed quarantine to hide from my responsibilities. But then I spotted the Kalanchoe on the windowsill over the sink. I previously thought the plant was dying because it had produced nothing new – no leaves or flowers – for the past two months. Despite its stagnant existence, I had continued to water the plant, not expecting much to happen. But a small orange blossom, previously undetected, was quietly nestled within the thick green leaves of the plant. Its presence gave me a breath of hope.
I sipped more water and felt the liquid’s coolness. I admired the dainty flower that thrived despite the consistent gray clouds of January. This blossom was strong enough to rise and join the living earth. If I wanted to follow suit, I would have to start by loading the dishwasher. I began by scrubbing the sticky cereal bowls and ignoring the overflowing trash can at the end of the counter.
My orange Kalanchoe had revived, and so would I with more tiny sips of water.
Still, my sons would have to take out the trash after school to ensure my full recovery – and the kitchen’s own revival, too.