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What's Blooming in May

A little worse for the wear from the winter cold and the heavy rains of late, the garden still manages to put out amazing blooms.

Lessons from Nature: Struggling to Survive

The Parable of the Rainlily

It's no news to anyone who knows me that I've been struggling with some heavy things lately; financial problems, the possibility of foreclosure, health concerns, and a search for a purpose to my life. Last night was a bad night, and ending my life had become a serious, logical option.

It is also no news to anyone that I love nature. My life, my religion, my whole being is wrapped up in the changing of the seasons, in the ending and beginnings of life that are so apparent all around for anyone who will pay attention. Lessons abound in nature, and this morning, I got a lesson in survival from a rain lily.

Rain lilies are amazing. They can go through prolonged periods of intense drought, freezing temperatures, blazing heat. Nevertheless, after the first real rain, they spring from the earth to prove that indeed, you can survive whatever the universe throws at you. They produce seeds that are so light that they are spread hither and yon by winds and rains, and will sprout up in the most unlikely places.

This morning I was going to take my morning walk to try to renew myself from my crisis of faith last night, when my eye caught a flash of color. It was a rain lily. This rain lily was growing in a crack between stepping stones and edging in a part of the garden outside my back porch where I keep broken pots and nurture seedlings. This dainty pink flower shone like a beacon, shouting out to me "If I can survive here, so can you."

I was so inspired by this tiny survivor that I grabbed my camera and went searching for other overlooked examples of survival in my yard. I found them everywhere.

My once beautiful orange epidendrum, now just a few sprigs where it once was a gorgeous, full pot of healthy blooms still survives, although it was the victim of an attack by squirrels two years ago that devastated it, and left only a few pieces from which I could try to regrow it. Every year, it puts out one or two more small sprouts, striving to become the enviable beauty of the garden it once was.

This now stunning butterfly weed was stripped bare last year by Monarch caterpillars. That is its purpose in life, to send out blooms that act as a beacon to Monarch butterflies, then serve as a nursery and feeding ground for their young. Every year, they strip it of all greenery, and every year, it comes back out fuller, and more alluring than the year before.

Last year my neighbor gave me piles of Oyster Plant which I didn't get planted before the freeze hit. I was planning to compost them, because they looked like they had all died. Today, I saw green sprouts poking up through the mass of dead leaves.

My Chicasaw Plum seedling, mowed down by well-meaning neighbors trying to help me clean up my yard, is green and growing.

Seeds of okra and cantaloupe are growing in a pile of leaves, manure and refuse while peanuts sprout from a pile of kitchen scraps. Sustenance from much of a blessing is that?

Last night I was looking for a sign, a reason to keep going. This morning, nature gave me my answer.