Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Night Blooming Cereus

For the second time in our sixteen years in Seattle, a bud reached maturity on our night blooming cereus plant. And twice we have missed the dramatic unfolding of the bloom, both a visual and olfactory treat as the spray of exotic perfume permeates the air for several hours after the bud unfolds. Watching the petals loosen from the bulging bulb and open into such perfection is a real treat, especially after the many years the plant has languished dormant in its northwest home. In steamy Houston, this plant produced dozens of blooms over the course of a year. One evening I recall enjoying six blooms open to maturity at once, the plant bending under the weight of those succulent flowers. But in Seattle, although the plant has grown wildly and assumed unwieldy proportion in its relatively tiny pot, there have been no buds, until this year.

Twice in the past weeks we have watched expectantly as blooms matured hoping that they would not drop from the stalk prematurely as some do. I photographed this bud last week, hoping that our trip to Vancouver Island would not conflict with opening night for the bloom. But, it did. We returned to the spent blossom hanging limply as they do after their few hours of glory. Several weeks ago, we anticipated the first bloom in our Seattle history and misjudged the timing; we missed out but in that case through sheer distraction. We were home that evening but just went to bed without thinking to check on the bud which typically bursts forth just before midnight.

Missed opportunities? Clearly. I wrote about the first time I missed the big event last month and was probably overly dramatic, sentimental and hard on myself when I noted........"This (missing out on the blooming) is a symbol of my life right now; obsessed with worries, pulled from the moments of joy, unable to lose myself in the beauty of the fragile, single moments of magnificence for this quiet, yet wild beauty. I feel as if I have been asleep to the movement of life, the fantastic river of breath and death. And so it is."

This time I feel less distressed; there will be another chance to watch the show. Even though there was no human audience, the show went on as they all do. We are all such a small part of the big picture anyway.

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