Louisiana Iris, photo by Glenda Taylor, Earthsprings Retreat Center CC 2.0

Another Lesson From Mama Nature

On my birthday every year for the past forty years or so, the Louisiana Iris bloom here at Earthsprings, the ones I brought from my parent’s old home place in Newton County, and every year those lovely pale purple blooms remind me to think broadly about what “home” really means. I got another lesson in that today.

It was only four or five “starts” I planted all those years ago, in a spot at the edge of the meadow, where rainwater drains slightly downhill and puddles for a while in a low flat place where a nightly frog orchestra usually performs. I knew that Louisiana iris needed wet roots to thrive. And thrive they did!

By now there are hundreds and hundreds of them, fanning out all the way to under the big cypress tree, where their advance is slowed and stopped by the heavy “cypress knees” under the shady tree and by the culvert nearby that gathers and funnels the water so it only travels along in a little “ditch,” past the house and all the way, eventually, past the bunkhouse.

This morning, I walked along the edge of this field of iris that are blooming lushly. I admired them and thanked them again for their life and for the sweet memories they bring of my childhood home, memories of a time when I was a kid and sat on the porch swing and admired the same family of iris blooming in the edge of the pond nearby. Many happy hours I sat there and swung and dreamed, pushing gently with my foot on our old dog who always laid on the floor under the swing peacefully with me.

Back then I sometimes thought of how my mother had been born in Louisiana and several generations of relatives before her had made their home in Louisiana. I also remembered how my stepfather’s father had rowed across the Sabine River from Texas into Louisiana in a small homemade pirogue (boat) to bring home a bride, a home that was only a few miles away from where I swung and looked at the blooming iris every spring.

Every year, now, I thank the iris for their beauty and for the beauty of those memories.

Well, today, attempting to pick one of the iris, twisting the stubborn strong stalk trying to break it, I inadvertently pulled it up, breaking it instead at the root, at the place where it had been connected to the expansive root system of all the other iris, there underground.

I apologized and told the plant I held in my hand that I would replant it elsewhere. Just to be adventurous, I said, I would plant it in a new place altogether, farther downstream, as it were, along the edge of the ditch somewhere down past the house.

So, after cutting the blooming part off the uprooted plant and putting the bloom in a vase in the kitchen, I went to the barn, got the shovel, and proceeded to a nice spot where I thought there just might be enough sun for the plant to bloom if it survived. I dug a little hole, tucked the plant in, talked to it nicely about being brave and being an adventurer moving into new territory, just as I am, I said, as I am moving into new territory in my ageing, which I was reminded of when I stood up stiffly, my old back creaking as I did so.

I stepped back to look around, and, then—lo and behold, to the north of the newly planted iris, by about five feet, I discovered another one just like it already there! In amazement, I then looked to the south by about the same distance, and there was yet another one!

Mama Nature, in her wisdom, had already, somehow, through the past year or so, moved, migrated, washed along, through the watery runoff of the ditch, her own adventurous iris starts! My “innovation” of choosing this spot, she had already selected!

So my little uprooted iris found a new home, with like-minded kindred plants, and surely it would have a good chance in a new “community” of life.

Metaphor maker that I am, I walked away, thoughtful, tender, grateful, drawing parallels not only in my own experiences of “home,” but also in thinking of all the uprooted people all over the world right now who have been violently torn away from all they know, and forcefully moved somewhere else.

May they all, may we all, I pray, find in the new territory of our lives, something, someone, already in place, those who are “relatives,” that can relate to their situation, that can be community as we carry on with life, however and wherever it may be.

And, may I continue to see, thankfully, that Mama Nature is always many steps ahead of me and of my needs, preparing the way. Gratitude.

Glenda Taylor 2022