TWO FOUND STORIES ABOUT DAYLILIES
Somehow I made it to the advanced age of forty four without knowing that daylily flowers last only one day. Each opens in the morning, sees what it can see, feeds what it can feed, then folds up by night—never to open again. I told L about my discovery when she came home at lunch.
“Why do you think they call them day lilies?” she accused.
“Because they come out during the day. They should be called One Day Lilies.”
She didn’t buy it. It wasn’t news to her. She gave me one of those looks like I was telling her I just learned which side won the Civil War. My daughter made me feel better. She was taken by surprise as I was. Maybe I wasn’t the dumbest person on earth, just the least informative parent. I have corrected the error, though, before it passes to yet another generation.
I visited the American Hemerocallis Society web page and felt even dumber. They prefer daylily as one word, except when they prefer the term hemerocallis. There are many varieties and they are easy to grow. Apparently, I am not the target audience (yet) for the site. One of the questions in the Frequently Asked Questions section was “What is the difference between diploid and tetraploid daylilies?” Now there’s a question I can’t imagine frequently asking.
I couldn’t find anything about sadness on their page.
I’m glad I just found out at forty-fours years old. Had I known about the fate of the day lily, I wouldn’t have been as sensitive to the sad beauty of it all. Does it hope for an extra long day? It is raining on today’s batch. Do they enjoy the moisture? What sort of day would I want to be my only?
“What about those buds there?” I pointed to two on neighboring stalks.
“Those are tumors,” she said. Prognosis negative.
The lone lily rose from the far edge of the other, now green, stalks, and even faced away from them. The last of its kind for this year. It did the job of the first. It acted in loneliness no differently than it would have in the company of many.