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Possumhaw: Fishing, flowers and fall


Shannon Bardwell



"I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house." 


Nathaniel Hawthorne (1842) 




Those few cool days we had were intoxicating and the comfort of gardening was a rush; likened to a movie trailer to make you want more. I did, I do. I'm ready for fall. 


It's been a beautiful summer with the grass staying green, the trees fully leafed-out and the flowers continuing to bloom. Several clumps of Prairie petunias, some call Mexican petunias, have managed to avoid deer nipping their tops off. The purple flowers open but for a day. Like the mayfly, it falls; another comes. I often clip a few stalks, still in the bud stage, and bring them inside. The buds will open continuously over a week or two and the stalks will root in the vase. Then you have another clump of Prairie petunias to plant or share.  


Sam's been fishing locally lately. He still checks the water levels at Grenada Lake. He's waiting for the water to go down some. You know less water, more confined fish. Summer fishing was a disappointment, but locally he's been doing good enough. Last week he mentioned on the river banks the buckeyes were coming out.  


The buckeye nuts are still in the hull, but Sam and his fishing buddy, Harvey, picked some and tossed them on the floor of the fishing boat. By the end of the day the hot sun caused the nuts to pop out of their hulls. The nuts are a beautiful shiny brown, brown as mahogany. I wish I could find more to do with them because they are so lovely. They are useful for fall decorating, but keep in mind they are inedible, poisonous in fact. 


One afternoon Sam rushed in the door all excited, "Come here. I want to show you something." 


I followed as he led me through the woods. I had worn flip-flops, not knowing we'd be trekking through the woods over fallen limbs, leaf piles and uneven ground. Still, I struggled to keep up. Just over the rise I saw it. There in a wide depression circled by trees was a huge display of scarlet red spider lilies. It looked like a vision from a fairy tale. We oohed and ahhed and wondered how they got there. There was no sunshine to encourage them, yet there they were.  


Funny thing we noted about spider lilies. Every year they come as a complete surprise, unlike daffodils announcing the advent of spring. We expect daffodils, but spider lilies? No one can remember buying spider lily bulbs; they appear like magic. I called a local garden center and acquired of spider lily bulbs. As suspected, the helper said they didn't carry any. She thought they were kind of wild. 


I looked online only to find that you can buy spider lily bulbs. The first company advertised a bag of one bulb; the sale price is $10.99 plus shipping. That's for one bulb. Our fairyland is worth a fortune.  


I think I'll leave our spider lilies be and next fall we'll be surprised all over again.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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