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The Fortune Plant


planted a fortune plant this year.  If I had it to do over, I wouldn't. And for you gentle reader, here's some advice.  Never, ever, plant a fortune plant unless you have quite a bit of energy to waste.  If you have a choice, don't even bring one home.

Flower beds always bring me joy, so I decided to make a small flower bed in my front yard.  While my sister visited us in Okinawa, we traveled all over the island as tourists and at different spots, we collected rocks.  Some are pure slate, others are gray, even others have beads of Georgia-clay-red running through them giving the illusion the color could simply be washed off.
I dug out a figure eight in the yard, and placed the rocks around the outside.  My calculations were a little short and I only had enough rocks to fill in a figure three, not a figure eight; the back would remain empty.  Running through the center, I piled a hundred or so sun bleached coral pieces collected from local beaches and worn smooth by years and years of being battered by the China Sea.

The flower bed was ready.  Now all I needed to do was plant something.  But what would I plant?  I envisioned each side being dominated by a large plant of some type, and then surrounded by bedding flowers.  I picked up a couple dozen red geranium sprouts and circled each side with geraniums.  If I could keep the snails under control, these would blossom and spread and create a very colorful bedding.

Now for the main plants.  My wife grew up on a farm and she convinced me we could cut off the top of a pineapple we bought from one of the local farms on the island and plant it.  It would grow into a full pineapple plant she assured me.  I was skeptical, but have learned to listen to her advice.  And I'll be darned; we're not ready to open up our own pineapple stand, but that plant is growing.

We had a fortune plant as a house plant.  It was doing OK, but we thought it needed some sun.  Out it went.  A week later, we realized it became infested with some type of bug.  Just between you and me, a bug infested house plant, is no longer a house plant at my house.  I decided to plant it in my flower bed.

About a week later, I noticed it wasn't doing too good.  Shock is normal after transplanting a plant, so I wasn't too worried, but I did mention it to Nimfa, my wife.  Her reply?  "You know why it's called a fortune plant, don't you?" 

"Uh, no," I answered, wondering if I should be worried.

"It's because it reflects your fortune.  If it thrives, you thrive.  If it stays sick and ill, your fortune will be wanting."

I still don't know if she was pulling my leg or not, but part of me can't help but believe there is some truth to this.  I've always been accused of being naive.  At any rate, I've been babying that thing almost continuously.  I give it plant food regularly.  During dry spells, I'm always out there watering it.  When it rained for a week, I was trying to figure out a way to get some of the excess moisture out of the ground (sponges don't work on mud, by the way).  I've been talking to it so much, my neighbor doesn't even say hi to me anymore;  he just gives me a sidelong glance as he hurries to his car.

And after all this attention, it is dying.  We have the unbearable heat of the Okinawa summer ahead of us and I'm wondering if should try give it some shade.  I saw an umbrella in a flower bed in Florida once and, at the time, thought it quite odd; now, it's sounds like it may be a summer solution.

If I had known so much was at stake with this plant, I never would have planted it outside.  If it died while under my wife's charge, well, no skin off my nose.  I do recognize that she didn't tell me the cruel truth about this plant, until after I planted in my flower bed.

Of course, on an intellectual level, I know that there is no truth to this old wives tale.  Unfortunately, I don't always think on an intellectual level.  Something keeps nagging at me, screaming out "SAVE THE FORTUNE PLANT!"  I've become it's slave.  So my recommendation to you, is never, ever, plant a fortune plant.  There's just too much at stake.

                                                                                                    -- Darril R. Gibson


Ed note.  This was written in the spring.  Now, with the summer almost over, I'm happy to say the fortune plant survived; thanks to some TLC by Nimfa, it has even thrived.  Unfortunately, the pineapple plant has gone to a better place.


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