Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Amaryllis' By Morning.....

I'm a digger of dirt by nature. As a child, my mother was mortified by the fact I would rather go outside and dig holes in our yard than stay inside and play tea party with my dolls. Don't get me wrong here. I loved my baby dolls and later on, my Barbies. But going outdoors and smelling freshly dug earth was my greatest love of all. I loved the way it felt in my hands and under my feet...and on my face...and in my hair...and in my mouth...and everywhere I could possibly smear the stuff because I thought it was 'Beauty Cream from God' !

My little sister and I would use all the great stuff my grandmother had given us to furnish our 'play houses in the woods' to dig with. She gave us old cooking utensils i.e. wooden handled spatulas and spoons, old pots and pans she no longer wanted, coffee cans, plastic butter bowls (back when margarine was the new thing and packaged in attractive reusable cereal bowls in assorted bright colors), an occasional jelly jar if we were VERY careful with it because it was made of glass, and the list goes on. To my mother's chagrin, my grandmother encouraged us to to "go dig in the dirt" and make mud pies.

The coffee cans were the greatest for digging big, deep holes in a specially designated place for us to do so (the "designated place" to dig was so that in evenings when my folks would sit outside with their 'after dinner cocktails', they didn't fall into our holes that would have no doubtedly happened after a few too many of those 'after dinner cocktails'). Grandmother would stand at the backdoor with her apron on, usually with a dish towel in hand and yell at us "if you keep digging, pretty soon you'll be able to hear the phones ringing in China"...and we believed her!! So we dug, and dug, and dug, and a couple of times I truly thought I heard the phones ring...or maybe it was the bells on the rickshaws as they scurried down the streets of China - I don't know. All I knew was that I had to dig. And dig I did.

My grandparents had a great love and respect of the outdoors and nature. My granddaddy was an avid bird watcher and could tell you the name of every bit of plant life and tree that grew in our world. My grandmother loved to garden and plant flowers. She LOVED to grow things. The inside of her house was a testament to that fact. It was filled with house plants she'd carried around with her for forty years. She had huge ivies and violets that were cuttings from her mothers house....that were cuttings from her mother's house. These were old, beautiful creations of mother nature and she nurtured every one for as long as I can remember.

That love and respect of planting, growing, nature, and 'digging in the dirt' was passed on to me. I love watching the birds and the squirrels and the chipmunks in my back yard. I encourage them to come...and that includes the squirrels. Most people think they're a nuisance, but I love to watch them. They are way more entertaining than watching TV. So I have bird feeders and squirrel feeders and they all come...including the wild rabbits at dusk and early morning.

There's one old rabbit who comes around on a regular basis to scavenge the squirrel corn and the cardinal's sunflower seeds. I know he's old and well established here because he seems to know the squirrels by name. He finds a spot where the getting is good, and by gosh dontcha know he stands his ground when the squirrels come around.

A few days ago, I was sitting at the supper table and happened to look out the window into the back yard where all the feeders are. The rabbit was there enjoying his supper. There were a couple of squirrels pilfering around the feeders as well. One of the squirrels decided he wanted the spot where rabbit was eating. Rabbit was having none of that -stood back on his haunches and they went to boxing each others ears! It was the funniest thing I had ever seen...until the next day. The next morning, I was sitting out on the deck in the back and there were squirrel and rabbit going at it again, only this time squirrel was hanging upside down like a trapeze artist from one of the bird feeders taking swipes at rabbit on the ground...and the boxing match was on again. A little later on, the tiny little chipmunk that lives under our back porch was weaving himself in and out of the feed portals of that same bird feeder. Waaaaaaaay better than TV folks.

My sweetie and I live in a Cape Cod style home we are currently renovating. In this economy, we got a real sweetheart of a deal on this place. We've been working on it since last fall. With all the time and attention that goes into working on the house, I haven't really had much opportunity to get outside and "dig in the dirt". There's a spot in the back where I know I want at least a table garden this year, but don't know if I'll get that far or not. There's a couple of places in the front I'd like to put in some flowers, but don't know 'bout that either. The closest I've come to planting of any sort thus far is the amaryllis bulb my sweetie's mother gave me for Christmas...and I did that back in January.

My sweetie's mother did give me a couple of small pots of pretty pink double impatients yesterday and a hanging basket to put them in. I'm a little encouraged now.

This amaryllis bulb was one of those things you find as a kit in the stores around Christmas time along with the tulips and the mini orchids and the like. My sweetie's mother actually re-gifted it to me because she's not much of a 'dirt digger'. She has a couple of house plants that are quite lovely but that's about as far as it goes with her. Someone had given her this paper white amaryllis kit for Christmas and she gifted it to me.

In January, I took it out of the box and proceeded to follow the planting instructions that came with it. I followed the instructions to the letter. I set it in a southwestern exposed window for optimal sun. I was proud as punch I'd been able to plant something so early in the year. The instructions also said I would see growth within a couple of weeks and soon I would have a magnificent thing of beauty to admire and behold.

Now, this is supposed to be a forced bulb, in the house, in the dead of winter. Each day I watched for some sort of sign of new growth. A week went by...nothing. Two weeks. Three weeks. Nothing. A month. Six weeks. TWO MONTHS. Nothing. Finally, at the end of March when I figured the worst of the nightly freezes were at a minimum, I gave up on the little amaryllis bulb and set it out on the back porch steps with the thought in mind that maybe it will do what it is supposed to do next the instructions said it would do the next time it was due to bloom.

A couple of weeks ago I was headed outside to check the feeders when low and behold, what did I see but some tiny green sprouts in the amaryllis pot! Could it be, I wondered? Is it really going to do something - even if it's just some little green leaves? It's alive!!! I was tickled pink to see this foster child of a plant have some spirit and decide to wake up in the spring.

Since then, each day three little bright green, banana shaped leaves have grown. In the middle a dark pink shoot has come up. In the days since, the dark pink shoot has grown tall and sports a bud on the top. I was just out of my mind with excitement about the sudden and stunning growth of this little thing that's not supposed to bloom until late fall.

So, I eagerly anticipated the pay off of all this activity. Soon...I didn't know exactly when, but I knew very soon, there would be the beautiful paper white amaryllis bloom I'd long awaited to see. This was going to be magnificent. I took a couple of photos of the proud little plant with it's bud perched high atop it's throne. I wanted to document it's progress in pictures so I would forever have proof of "the little amaryllis that could". Each day I would take a photo of it's budding progress and have them forever. I even knew I would want a photo of the completed bloom as the wallpaper on my computer. That's how confident I was about this thing of beauty unfolding in front of me.

Two days ago, early in the morning as I was leaving the house to take my sweetie to work, I noticed something different. The amaryllis. It was different today. The months of anticipation. The hope. The frustration. The tending it like it was my own child. The dreams I'd had of it's beauty and grandeur - dashed. In an instant, the bud on top was gone. "What happened to the amaryllis bud?" I asked my sweetie as he saw the tears welling up in my eyes. "I don't know. Maybe the squirrels got it" he said. "But it was here last night when we went to bed" I said. I looked hard at it for a moment and then it hit me...the boxing rabbit. Rabbit had this sweet, tender, chubby little bud in the wee hours of the morning for breakfast.

I didn't have much doubt that it was rabbit who scarfed my prized amaryllis. My neighbors recently told me the rabbits come around and eat the buds from the tulips on the verge of blooming. Most tulips don't see the light of day here because of the rabbits. That was all the validation I needed. I looked at it again and saw that it had definitely been chewed. No clean break as if maybe it been knocked by a passerby. No dirt laying around. The pot still upright. No evidence of it anywhere else in the yard. It was just gone. Period.

Even though there will be no grand paper white amaryllis blooming for me this time because of the boxing rabbit, I will continue to feed the birds. and the squirrels. and the chipmunk. and the boxing rabbit. I invite them here and will continue to do so as I love their daily antics and the wonder of the nature in my own back yard. I will just have to reconsider how I go about "digging in the dirt" planting flowers and the table garden, if I get to pursue these things this spring. I do not feel like Elmer Fudd and have the need to go after "that cwazy wabbit". That "cwazy wabbit"' was only doing what comes naturally to him and found a treat indeed. I'll just have to 'wabbit pwoof' everything else I do henceforth.

In a way, it's not so bad knowing it made someone else just as happy as it would have made me. Even if it was a 'boxing rabbit'.

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