Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light. —Theodore Roethke

Blooming Late

In October, I bought two amaryllis bulbs. According to the photos on the box, one would produce a brilliant red flower while the other would be a crisp white. I thought they would make a lovely decoration on my mantel when they bloomed, which I assumed would be close to the holidays.

I placed them beside each other and watered them as directed. Almost immediately, one of the bulbs produced a bud whose stem rose steadily as the days passed. After three weeks, it was a good eight inches high. It was impressive. But when I inspected the other bulb, there was no evidence that anything was growing at all. “Face it, Mom,” my daughter said. “That one’s a dud.”

But it’s just as easy to water two bulbs as one, so I kept tending to both. And, to my surprise, the second bulb finally produced a bud about the same time that the first flower began to bloom...right on time, just after Thanksgiving. To my surprise, the first flower was neither red nor white. It was striped with both. And to my further surprise, the second bulb produced another bud. As my surprise striped flower bloomed and faded, the buds on the second bulb continued to grow...and grow...and grow until they were twice the height of the first one. A full month later, well into the new year, one bud began to bloom—brilliant scarlet. (Just as an FYI, the photo at the top of this piece is actually my flower.)

They were content to grow and bloom in their own time, and in their own way.

Those flowers, it seemed, were bent on teaching me a lesson. A lesson about expectations, about patience, and about blooming in your own time. The flowers were not in a race, nor were they concerned with my opinion of their color or timetable. They were content to grow and bloom in their own time, and in their own way. And both were beautiful. To anyone who feels like a late bloomer, or perhaps like a product that doesn’t quite match the box, please know that these very qualities can be what makes you intriguing and wonderful. Let your writing grow and grow...and bloom.