Last Saturday’s ‘Something’

Evening rain lily (Cooperia drummondii, also known as Zephyranthes chlorosolen)

I’ve learned a number of lessons since beginning to roam the countryside in search of delights to photograph. Most have been of the practical sort: double-check the camera for the presence of its memory card before leaving home; always carry Benadryl; keep boots and extra water in the car; don’t put car keys in a shallow pocket.

Other lessons, less obvious, have been learned slowly, over time. After five years or so, I’ve yet to experience a single exception to a lesson best expressed as an aphorism: “There’s always something to see.” 

Last Saturday, my unexpected ‘something’ turned out to be five rain lilies. The flowers often emerge after rains, but despite a wet spring and early summer, I hadn’t yet seen one this year.

I certainly didn’t expect to find them clustered along a dry, dusty roadside during our typically hot and dry July, but there they were: one fading to pink, three somewhat nibbled and gnawed, and the one shown above still fresh, as nearly perfect as a flower could be.

I confess I sometimes talk to the flowers, and I talked to this one. “Look at you,” I said. “It’s barely past seven o’clock, and you’ve already given me my ‘something’ for the day.”


Comments always are welcome.
Evening rain-lily (Cooperia drummondii, or Zephyranthes chlorosolen) has been moved from the Lily family (Liliaceae) to the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). The specific epithet ‘drummondii’ recognizes Thomas Drummond, an 18th century Scottish naturalist. 

54 thoughts on “Last Saturday’s ‘Something’

  1. I don’t talk to plants so much but I certainly talk to birds, butterflies and other animals! I chuckled at your list of things to be sure of when going on a hike. I have been guilty of leaving the memory card at home, so now Miriam made little pouches that attach to the camera strap and I always have an extra battery and memory card with me. Shallow pockets are a big one for me and I have to constantly tell myself to put my car keys in my pants pocket. They fell out of a shallow pocket once, and I retraced my steps and found them, but thank goodness it was winter and they were visible on the snow. Had it been spring with lots of vegetation it might have been a different story. Your Rain Lily was worthy of a chat for sure! It is a beauty.

    1. It’s fun to talk to the world — and to listen to it from time to time.

      I certainly did some talking to myself the day I found myself hours from home and minus a memory card, but eventually I trekked over to the nearest little town and — mirabile dictu — found a WalMart. The store was well stocked with memory cards, and the day was saved. I’ve not forgotten mine since.

      As for those car keys, I had an experience similar to yours in the Big Thicket. It wasn’t winter, but the ground was mostly sand, making it relatively easy to retrace my steps and find them. Now, I accessorize my jeans with a metal shower curtain hook clipped through a belt loop. It takes only a second to clip my keys there; they’re perfectly secure, and it’s easy to unlock the car without even taking them off the hook if I want.

      There’s nothing like a solution that’s simple and elegant — like the rain lily.

  2. It is always exciting to find them in the wild. During the drought, the ones I grow in my garden would finally just give up and bloom without rain. They can also tell the difference between rainwater and sprinkler water, which is truly amazing.

    1. I just collected some rainwater from the storm that rolled through this afternoon. When Mom passed her African violets on to me, she said I should always let the tap water sit for a day before using it to water them; it allowed the chlorine to evaporate.

      It worked for a couple of years, but eventually they started turning yellow. I snooped around and discovered the city had changed its water purification method, and was adding chloramine to the water instead of chlorine. Chloramine is a combination of ammonia and chlorine, and it doesn’t evaporate, no matter how long you let it sit around. Once I stopped using the stuff and went to rainwater, the violets perked right up.

    1. I was delighted to find these. They’re one of my favorite flowers, partly because of their beautiful form, partly because they’re white, and partly because their appearance is so unpredictable. We just had a substantial rain this afternoon — perhaps Saturday’s lilies were engaged in anticipatory blooming!

  3. This is lovely, it really does make a perfect symbol for purity.
    I haven’t been talking to the plants much lately, but a couple of days, felt like giving the trees on my street a friendly pat, I’m really appreciating the shade this summer.

    1. It’s amazing how much difference a good tree can make, especially if it’s paired with grass and not concrete. That’s one reason evenings in the country are so pleasant, even during the height of summer. Without streets and buildings to hold the heat, things cool down far more quickly; if the only lights are the stars and lightning bugs, it’s nigh unto perfection.

  4. Yes, I would agree, that’s one nearly perfect flower! I wonder if it had any detectable scent? Lilies typically do, especially the ones they use to decorate churches at Eastertime. I talk to plants as well, encouraging them to grow or praising their beauty. I’ve heard they like to be part of a conversation!

    1. I couldn’t detect any scent from this cluster, but the wind was pretty strong, and probably would have blown it off. I went for some time without being able to detect their scent, but eventually I found a substantial colony and realized what people had been talking about. These have a light, sweet fragrance. I don’t find the ones they sell at Eastertime at all pleasing; that scent can send me straight out of a store.

      I talk to my plants too, but I’m afraid my favorite cactus has taken my encouragement too much to heart. It was about four inches tall when I got it, and now it’s over two feet tall, and needs to be repotted again. I may just give it new soil in the same pot, and see if I can slow it down a little. At this point, taking it with me in an evacuation would be more than a little cumbersome.

  5. If I didn’t know you, I might suspect that one was a plastic one. It’s so perfect – so smooth, so white. What a find! (My neighbor’s flowerbed ones had been bringing up in chorus this year – she got to see them. Usually she’s out of town and I have to send her pix to let her know they, like teenagers home alone, have her number)
    Gorgeous (and un-nibbled)

    1. I am rolling over here. Your mention of plastic brought to mind that oldie-but-goodie by the Serendipity Singers called (appropriately enough) “Plastic.” I’d forgotten it, and I didn’t know that it’s a Shel Silverstein song — he was prescient, that’s for sure.

      I remember you mentioning your neighbor’s lilies in the past. I’m glad she got to see them this year. Over in Nassau Bay, they have some cultivars planted in the medians, but I haven’t been in the area to see if they’ve been blooming.

  6. My rain lilies were purple. Somehow this year, despite all our rain, I haven’t seen them. I’m wondering if the amaryllis roots have choked them out.

    1. I know almost nothing about gardening, but I did find a short article that listed some reasons lilies stop blooming. It says, “If you planted your lily years ago, it might not bloom because it’s too old. Although most lilies are perennial in Mediterranean climates, they eventually stop producing flowers and die, often because too many rhizomes are crowded together underground.”

      There was a note about drainage, too. The article said, “Lilies need frequent watering to bloom properly, but they can’t survive standing water. Make sure to plant your bulb in well-draining soil that stays moist without being overly wet. Too much moisture can cause the bulb to rot and encourage damaging fungal growth.”

      It might be that you and I both have been short on lilies because of too much water. We’ve had so much rain that standing water continued throughout the spring. They might be popping up here because things finally are drying out.

      1. Thanks for the info on the lilies, Linda. I’ll have to start some more in a different area. I like bulbs because they need far less work than other plants.

    1. As bad as a forgotten or full memory card can be, it’s just as distressing when my mind seems to be out of memory! It’s too bad we can’t stop by the store and pick up an extra memory card for our minds.

      I love this shot for two reasons. First, the flower is beautiful, and I was happy to find it. Second? It was blowing about 20-25 mph and I still managed to get a couple of decent images. And here’s a fun fact you’ll enjoy — each of the other lilies had at least one katydid nymph roaming around on it.

  7. Playing gotcha-last with the world. I love it when the world sneaks something in on you that gives you pause (in a good way).

    1. What a great way to see it. Gotcha-last can be a great deal of fun, but i do suspect that anyone who tries playing with nature will discover that nature always wins. As unexpected as the lilies were, the turtle and the land crab were equally great ‘gotchas’ on this last little foray. They’ll show up here eventually — who knew that Texas had land crabs?

    1. I don’t think I ever could go full Gingold, but it is fun to get out early from time to time. It was interesting to see which birds are early risers, and which don’t begin stirring until full light. The storks didn’t appear on the flats until after 8 a.m., and the latecomers didn’t arrive until nearly 9.

      1. I only quickly saw your comment this morning and will start responding later in the day. But it appears you were more Gingold than I as you were up when I was but time zone-wise 2 hours ahead of me.

        1. Yep — and part of the reason I was up so early is that I was fast asleep by maybe 8:30 or 9 p.m. I might have pushed myself more than I should have yesterday — by the time I quit I looked like I’d been standing in a shower, fully clothed: dripping hair, wet clothes, and all that. But flowers bloom when flowers bloom, and I came home with photos of three orchid species and a wonderful lily that might well be one you’ve posted. I’ll check that out later. Don’t worry about missing posts — in another week or so, I would have come looking for you!

  8. Such a beautiful lily. Simple and uncomplicated in its petal structure and wonderfully fresh and inviting to those who view it and can’t resist talking (to it).

    Thanks for sharing, Linda.

    1. I think its simplicity is a good part of what makes it so appealing to me. I looked through my files and can’t locate my photo of its seeds. They’re elegant in their own way — flat, black, and as shiny as patent leather. They come packed into a little three-part pod, and are easy to collect, provided there’s a convenient swath of the flowers.

  9. There’s a purity of beauty in rain lilies which your photo captures perfectly. I love them and had some in my back garden, but I think they’ve all declined with the shade. I enjoy the ones alongside Austin’s roads and fortunately there are still plenty after rains.

    1. We finally had some short-lived but substantial rain yesterday, so I’ll start watching for them again. It’s always tickled me that they so often choose roadsides to set up shop: poor soil, bad air, and blazing heat notwithstanding. I always wonder how their seeds get transported; I suppose the only reasonable answer is birds. It’s quite a contrast when such beautiful flowers pop up in such unlikely places.

  10. I talk to things all the time, Linda, but they are mainly animals. The deer always stop to listen. As for my camera, I never leave home without a freshly charged battery as a back up. I’ve never once filled up a memory card before I delete the photos from it. Mine hold a couple of thousand. –Curt

    1. I carry extra batteries, too — always. I’ve never filled a memory card, either, although I’d be more than willing to take on the challenge. Actually, the worst thing I’ve done with a memory card is accidentally delete about three hundred photos, give or take. As it happened, my moans reached the ear of a blogging friend who asked if I’d formatted the card. When I said I hadn’t, he told me how to recover the files. I found a great program online, downloaded it, and voila! They all were there — along with a goodly number of other images, since I’d never formatted the card! I do that now, but very, very carefully.

      1. I lost a camera in Mexico, Linda, actually left it behind in a taxi and was unable to recover it. Sigh. Fortunately, I had downloaded most of the photos. I normally download my photos daily to my laptop when it is available and back up the laptop regularly. So far I have been lucky! Knock on wood.

    1. They’re one of my favorite flowers. White flowers always appeal to me, but the simplicity of their lines does lend them a certain elegance. The fact that they’ll show up in highway medians and vacant lots is another plus.

  11. I probably shouldn’t count on email notifications as I didn’t get one for this post. I thought it odd not to have seen one from you in a while. Good ol’ WordPress.

    Rain lilies are so lovely and you’ve captured its beauty so well, Linda.

    Hmmm, I am not sure who or what I am talking to while in the field but I enjoy the conversation whether or not the subject hear’s a word of it. But, despite my doubts, there is a book, “The Secret Life of Plants” that supplies evidence that they do feel and hear, most likely in ways totally unhuman-like.

    1. I made an inquiry to WP on your behalf — check your email. You’re not the only one who’s had trouble. In the past week or so, I’ve gotten emails from three people who suddenly weren’t getting emails. SG doesn’t only stand for your name — it also can stand for ‘systemic glitch.’

      I’ve heard about that book you mentioned, and have read a few articles about the ways that plants communicate. I don’t expect them to recite the Gettysburg Address, but there have been some times when I have wondered just what’s going on. This morning, I’d planned to spend a couple more hours at the rare plant preserve, but when I turned to leave, I suddenly had this feeling that I needed to turn around and take a different, rickety old boardwalk. When I did, I found the photo of the weekend. Maybe there’s a plant Muse!

  12. I have NEVER seen a rain lily. They’re one of the most beautiful blooms I’ve ever seen so thank you for introducing me. (I talk to flowers, too.) And I loved your rules. Each and every one a gem!

    1. I’ve seen large patches of them, but sometimes they’ll fill an entire field; I’ve only seen photos of that. They are so beautiful — although like many flowers they don’t last long. Their seeds are fun, too. They’re flat, round, and as shiny black as patent leather shoes. They get packed into their pod as though they’re in a perfectly packed suitcase — I don’t have a good photo, but I’m hoping to find good seed pods one of these days.

  13. I like your lessons – I’ve been pretty good about learning and following mine, but not always. A few days ago we took a ferry and planned to spend all day on foot, so I lightened the load and left the camera case behind, forgetting that I’d promised myself I would charge the battery that’s on the camera strap, forgetting that I didn’t charge it, forgetting that I could have grabbed the extra charged battery from the camera case…. :-) I like the keys in the deep pocket reminder, that’s a good one. ;-)
    Yes, there’s always something, and your rain lilies are always extra special. Just gorgeous!!

    1. There are a couple more lessons I forgot to add to the list. One is to purchase and keep in reserve extra lens covers: no explanation needed. The other important tip for down here is to always, but always, put the camera and lenses in the trunk of the car during any early morning trip to anywhere. With the humidity so high, cameras that have been in the passenger compartment of an air conditioned car are going to take forever to de-fog. Sometimes, I’ll turn on the car’s heater, and just a minute of warm air will take care of the problem, but if I’m already down the path, there’s nothing to do but wait.

      Of course, if there’s something as lovely as this lily to meditate on while waiting for the lens fog to lift, that’s not necessarily bad! They are gorgeous: so simple, and elegant.

    1. You certainly aren’t alone when it comes to talking to plants and animals — and birds, for that matter. I finally learned to tuck an extra memory card into my camera bag, and of course since doing that I’ve never forgotten to put one in the camera. The extra card’s like a charm, or amulet. I suspect if I took it out of the bag, it wouldn’t be long before I’d forget to put one in the camera.

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