Essay

Beholden to Mystery

At the end of summer a few years ago, I scoped out an empty spot in my garden to plant the mystery daylily I gleaned from a wooden box at farmers market. A handwritten sign on a popsicle stick above the dug-up leftovers invited passers-by to “Take one, or not.” I took one, soil still clinging to the bulb.

I gentled roots over mounded earth, watered the plant—and waited. Not much happened through autumn. Philosophically, I told myself if the plant sprouted the following spring, I should welcome it—no matter what it turned out to be. If the daylily disrupted my color scheme, I could always move it. If it didn’t come up, no great loss. The thing was already half-gone in the bin.

The daylily bloomed the first summer, increased in size the second, and bloomed in glorious profusion this year. No, it doesn’t fit with my color scheme—but who could uproot a coral like the sunrise or its purple farewell at end of day? The petals glisten, and its green throat sings a silent chant.

I do not know its name. I could name it, but then I would own it. No, I will keep it as a reminder that some things are not meant to be owned but honored for themselves.

Mysteries to behold.

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