like a recalcitrant boy in the corner, my amaryllis it did nothing. day after day–nothing. not a sprout or a shoot or a peep.
so much so that at one point i thought it a dud. a firecracker without fizzle. i’m not one to chuck things, but this baby was nudging me in a corner.
tucked in the loamy soils the day after thanksgiving, it sat idle straight through advent. i had done what it wanted: gave it light. gave it space. even replaced the cheap green plastic pot that it came with, with a sporty red aluminum bucket. what more could an amaryllis want?
‘bout the third week into this non-adventure, when i had decided its sole purpose in life was to take up a chunk of my corner, place holding forever, i put in a call to the bulb lady; you’ve met her before here, jennifer brennan, my life coach on all things dug in the ground.
well, says jennifer, laughing, “amaryllis, i’ve said for years, are kind of like teenage boys.
“it’s gonna grow when it wants to, and the only thing it’s going to please is itself.
“might be christmas, or valentine’s day, or easter. no way to know.”
hmmm, i said, eyeing my adolescent boy with the green tip popping out of the pot.
okay, then, so i’ll wait.
considered blaring some tunes. but then figured the ones that i’d pick would be so out of date, the poor thing would stay hunkered in soils just to spite me.
so i went on with my life. cast ever-so-casual a glance off to the corner. but not too often, and only when the teenage bulb was not looking.
and then, well after christmas, somewhere around epiphany, appropriately enough, the ol’ boy decided to stretch. must have been getting out of bed sometime in the mid-afternoon. like my own 13-year-old only dreams of being able to do.
it stretched and it stretched, inspiring hope, hinting at joy. if i waited. if i did little but sprinkle the occasional few drops of water.
and then, oh my lord, what had been one stalk turned into two. and what had been one amaryllis-in-the-making on one of those stalks turned into two, too. do the math, and it looks like we might be in for a three-ring circus.
yesterday, all day, it was like watching the teenager suddenly decide there was someplace to go. every time i turned around that red trumpet was blaring a few extra notes.
and then, when i walked in the door after the ol’ car had died and my key ring exploded all over the parking lot, losing a key in the process, i shot a glance in the corner and my heart did a dance.
just when i needed it most, the ol’ boy he was blaring. mouth wide. tonsils dangling. if he’d been a sick teenage boy, i could have swabbed the germs right out of his lungs, he was so open wide.
i stood there and marveled. he had moved when he wanted to, all right, but somehow–in that magical, mysterious way of the world–his moving came just when i needed it most.
his sidekicks, they’re opening as i type. by nightfall i could have three teenage boys out there, all carrying on wildly. all carrying on, red.
and i, as their long-awaiting mama, could not be more tickled. they are, in the end, red triumphant, oh so triumphantly red.
anyone out there waiting and waiting for triumph, triumph in any color? anyone with a tale of life unfolding on a time table all of its own?
Hi Barb! Wish I’d had your description of amaryllis as adolescent boy a few weeks ago. I was given my first ever pot and bulb and thought I had a dud, too. Then, it grew and grew and bloomed and after it was done, I went searching Chicagoland for another bulb, but in is no longer “the season” and I am so sad. I think these bulbs should be available year round as they remind us of good things happening where we can’t see them, and blossoming in one’s own good time. Plus, I have a 13 year old son who grows centimeters over night, along with lengthening shoe size and deepening voice. All that potential was locked in the little boy for so long and now it is blooming!
This is an amazing thing. We get a gift of an amaryllis on occasion, and being careless with plants as I am with stains does not always serve them well. Last year–somehow–we forgot to pot the thing altogether, and when I found it in February or March it had already started to grow, without a pot, without dirt, without light, shut up in its box in the bottom of a cupboard. When I pulled it out, half in horror and half in awed admiration, our amaryllis stem was three inches high and white, completely white as a sheet. I called someone who knows better than I about these things (what would we do without bulb-wise friends?) and she said, pot it. Put it in the sunlight. It will still work. Well, it did. It grew nearly to its full height white as a sheet, and then slowly, bit by bit, it became pale green, then deeper green, its buds readying to open. It never grew very tall but it blossomed beautifully and I was amazed and thrilled that in fact we had not killed this thing, that it was full to bursting of life and energy, and try as we might we could not keep it down, could not keep it defeated, could not keep its loud red trumpet from shouting to the world. Amazing.