I spent a few hours last July cutting, tearing, digging, prying and pulling out the base remnants of old shrubs that grew along the southeast wall of our little house in Ark City. The anchoring tendrils of winter creeper left their scars on the cedar siding. It’ll take a fair amount of scraping and grinding and two coats of new paint to finish hiding those marks.
Not being in the proper frame of mind for all that last summer, I opted for planting lilies in that vacated section of ground. Figured maybe some bright blooms might distract the casual passers-by enough that they wouldn’t notice the siding. In order to give the new plants a good go of it in the southern Kansas summer, I poured on a liberal dose of the root starter recommended for transplanting. Some of that stuff you dilute in water that has just the right proportion of the right nutrients, you know.
In spite of such splendid treatment, the Oriental lilies almost immediately began turning yellow. Within two weeks, at least one of them had added a disturbing degree of wilt to accompany the paling color. By the end of a month, all of them but one had died. By September, that one also had given up the ghost, so to speak. The day lilies, living in the same neighborhood, seemed to be doing okay, as long as I watered them every few days.
Short of autopsy, the only thing I could think of in the way of investigating possible explanation was to go back and re-read the instructions on the jug of starter solution. (I may have used the term “re-read” in a somewhat misleading fashion.) Careful review of that little bit of written conveyance certainly yielded at least one strong clue: I had used about ten times the recommended amount.
Once again void of anyone else to blame for my pain and predicament, I lamented the lost plants throughout the rest of the season. Slim is the comfort of the soul who knows the burden of its own shortcomings. Somehow, in spite of such guilt and grief, I managed to make it through the winter.
Two weeks ago, while inspecting the fifty-something plants we’d set out around the house last summer, I checked on the day lilies in that southeast section. They had sprung up from the soil, a lush green of spring’s glad awakening. The blades were already a few inches tall. As I looked along the bed, I also noticed some emerging clumps of different character. Their green took the form of a series of short triangular blades arranged with circular centers. I was right well astounded by what I was seeing!
Every one of those Oriental lilies that I was sure I had killed beyond any hope of resurrection had re-emerged. Some store of hope and life that I could not perceive and could barely believe had laid beneath the surface for all those months and now erupted into undeniable growth and existence. Even when it seems for all that can be seen that we have no reason to hope for good yet to come, it can still spring up from the very soil beneath our feet.
Those who have learned to hold stubbornly to well-founded faith know that hope can yet yield its good fruit, no matter how wilted the stalk and stem of seasons past.