112. The Joy of Small Surprises

We pulled into the Apple Hill driveway Saturday evening at dusk after a long, grueling, expensive week at the city house. We were all tending towards grouchiness — even Henry the cat, whose nap had been rudely interrupted to be jostled along in the truck. There in the driveway, between two old pine trees — one dead and one not looking so good — was this joyous flower: belladonna amaryllis Yes, it certainly is odd. One lone stalk bursting into five gorgeous icy pink lily-type flowers that circle the top. We had no idea how or why that one odd flower was growing in that one odd spot. But it made us laugh and take a picture of it.

A Sunday afternoon porch sit with neighbor Betty gave me a clue. Clara always called it a Naked Lady and got angry at anyone who mowed it down while utilizing instruments of lawn destruction.

Yes, I’ve been there. Every gardener has. Belladonna amaryllis Later I googled Naked Lady Lily — ahh, the small joys of the internet — and discovered that it is not, in fact, a lily. It is Amaryllis Belladonna, and the only true amaryllis. You know those giant flowers sold at Christmas time, under the Amaryllis name? Not. (For your gardening pleasure, they are technically named Hippeastrum.)

These lovely Naked Lady Amaryllis grow leaves in the spring that die down, and then, right about now, send up one lone stalk bearing amazingly gorgeous flowers. Once I had seen them in my yard, I saw them three times yesterday in other places as well. Belladonna amaryllis Apparently Clara’s Naked Lady doesn’t know that it is hardy only up to Zone 8, and up here in the frigid hinterlands of Zone 5, the bulbs have to be dug up in the fall and replanted in the spring. They look best planted with hostas, and they don’t mind a shady spot, though they prefer sun.

These lovely flowers are originally from South Africa and were brought by sailors to Europe in the 1700s. They love the Mediterranean climate the best. (Who doesn’t?) Belladonna amaryllis So now I have a quandary — should I just let it be and risk losing it? Should I dig it up and replant it in the spring with a few others? One website noted that they really don’t like being disturbed… The bulbs are 3 for $39.95! Gulp. No wonder Clara only had one! Maybe I’ll just plant some pretty hostas around it…

C.S. Lewis wrote about interruptions in a letter that is quoted in Yours Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis. He said that interruptions of one’s own, or real life, are not interruptions at all, but your real life — the life God is sending you day by day. Life is filled with little interruptions — sometimes they aren’t pleasant, sometimes they are just irritating, but sometimes they are little gems of beauty, laughter, joy.

These moments are your real life; note them and be thankful for them. No matter how small.

I had other small surprises this weekend that made me smile. How about you?