But for a few weeks, she is queen!
Especially in my yard. Where last summer's drought brought great devastation, her grape-like blooms seem to cheer on all the other plants that aren't sure they have the strength to wake up from their near-death experiences. From her perch next to the porch, she overlooks her kingdom, and I imagine her saying, "Okay girlfriends, work with me here. Put on your big girl undies and BLOOM already! I, like, cannot make this place look good all by myself!"
And yes. I did just put words in a plant's mouth. And I sort of gave her a valley girl accent. Creative license at it's best!
In a similar way, God took some creative license with me regarding my Mountain Laurel. He, of course, has every right to take creative license with me because---well you know why! Anyway, He spoke his words in my heart this week. I'm a slow learner, but He worked quickly to teach me, because, as I said, the Mountain Laurel's blooms don't last long.
So here it is. The story of my Mountain Laurel.
We moved into our 100+ year-old-house 15 years ago, after two years of renovations. By our own hands, we planted grass, shrubs, trees and flowers. Over time, trees grew taller. Flower beds filled in as plants matured. In the summertime, butterflies swarmed our salvia. The Crepe Myrtles flourished. The Lady Banks roses and Jasmine grew thick in the arbor. Just down the hill, the river flowed clear and lovely.
God's creation at its best.
On the southwest corner of our house we planted a Mountain Laurel. It was small when we put it in. In five years time, it seemed to have hardly grown at all. We thought maybe we'd gotten a "dud" at the nursery. It was always such a pretty green, but it never flowered. Ten years passed. The tree grew taller and fuller, but still no blooms. We aren't really folks with green thumbs. When we plant, we do so with a song and a prayer and hope for the best! We wondered if perhaps we'd bought a variety of Mountain Laurel that doesn't flower if indeed such a thing exists. You know, kind of like a "fruitless" pear tree. A "laurel-less" Mountain Laurel.
Year 14 in our house--last year--was the year of the great drought. There was still water in the river, but it hardly moved at all. Our water well was putting out an alarmingly small amount of water. One by one, our plants began to die. They were slow, painful deaths. Not for the plants, but for us. It had taken so long for them to mature. So much hard work and expense. All gone.
First the shrubs in the front and back yards. Then the jasmine that had climbed on our front arbor for years. The Sweet Briar rose bush. The Mexican Heather (that supposedly doesn't come back every year, but it did for us). Even the wildflowers that usually blanket the field in front of our house refused to show up.
Brown. That was the color of summertime in 2011. Except for one thing.
The Mountain Laurel.
Her leaves were the most beautiful, deep green we'd ever seen. As everything else grew weaker, it seemed that she became stronger. As summertime turned to fall, and fall into winter, she held her own. Actually, she more than held her own. She flourished.
And late in February, just a few weeks ago, at the ripe old age of 15, the Mountain Laurel bloomed for the very first time. After years of silence. After drought. After living a simple and quiet life just off the corner of our porch, she decided to step forward and shout, "I am here! I survived, and I am more beautiful than you ever thought I would be".
Oh my! No chance on earth that God was going to let this teachable moment be lost on me. It was loud and ever so clear. Sometimes, when it appears that the period of drought will never end, it does. When it seems that all is lost and all the "color" in our lives is gone, it isn't.
For years, that Mountain Laurel had, in fact, been getting too much water. If we had been gardeners with an education we would have known this. If we'd thought about it, it would have made sense. The Mountain Laurel is native to Texas. She needed a good dose of drought! She was not only created to survive in dry, dessert climates, but to thrive there. HELLO!
Sometimes I need a good drought. And just in case you know me personally and are thinking, "Yeah, she sure does", let me just tell you, so do you!! We all do! We have stored up enough sustenance in our roots to get us through the droughts in life. We will not shrivel up and blow away. Because even though all of our senses tell us otherwise--we will survive to tell about it! To everyone around us, it might look like a poor, pitiful drought. In reality, it is really and truly a time of rich, healthy growth beneath the surface. It is a time where we ready ourselves for that big moment of BLOOM!
Drought makes the blooms, when they do appear, even sweeter. If my Mountain Laurel had bloomed amidst the backdrop of all my other garden lovelies, it his highly unlikely she would have received quite this amount of attention from me. It was the fact that she bloomed for the very first time against a backdrop of brown after a period of drought that made her flowers the most beautiful I've ever seen!
Late in 2011 and early this year, the rains have come, bringing with them the promise of a beautiful crop of wildflowers. The river has begun to flow again. We will slowly begin to replant everything that perished.
From her perch next to the porch, the Mountain Laurel will watch it all, knowing, like me, that another drought is sure to come at some point. But to be found standing at the end of the drought, and even more, to bloom-- well now that is really something.
|first bloom fifteen years in the making.|