Meridian Star

October 11, 2013

Spider Lilies: Fall has arrived …

By Annie McKee
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — The recent rain in our area brought forth spider lilies. Like an old friend, the spider lily is a special part of each September and October. The amaryllis-type bulb arrives to remind us that the world is truly beautiful, though flawed. Yes, there is hope, when the little bright spot of red joy emerges each fall.

        In our busy world – run here, run there, it’s amazing that we sometimes forget the magical brilliance of the plant. The spider lily, originating in Japan, is known botanically as Lycoris radiate — also called by some, The Naked Lady or Surprise Plant. Doesn’t matter the name, the lacy bloom will appear year after year, without any special babying – hardy and dependable and always beautiful.

        Spider lilies will pop up near old cemeteries, historic homes, and gardens of yesterday, even sometimes in ditches and old pathways all across the South, as reminders of days-gone-by … grandma, our cousins, and the shiny, hopeful days of our youth.

         Oh, the stories and secrets the little prominently red bloom could tell. It boggles the imagination, brings forth reminisces of sweeter times, and joy to a heart that might need a special touch. However the secrets are safe with the lily – one may only enjoy a glimpse, like an old photograph, to a time of yesterday.

     That time of yesteryear might only have been last year or the year prior. That’s the magic of the spider lily; we choose the time and place to remember. The lacy red bloom provides the inspiration.

     The resonance, rich and significant, of the daring plant is a lesson for all, as it dares to shoot through thick sod or ground cover. The bulb knows in order to make its way each fall, it must persevere, like a soldier with an important mission: Go forth and provide beauty and comfort.

         On a personal note – each fall when the first spider lily sparkles its way to my attention, I think of my Aunt Eula’s garden. She and I would cut lovely flowers and place them in a vase inside her house by the big picture window in the living room, and Aunt Eula would thank God for the beauty in the world.

        Each gardening day, after a hard morning’s work, I would be rewarded with a piece of peppermint candy that was held in a crystal candy dish on a dark cherry wood table. One piece — yes, one piece was enough, and I would look forward to the next time. Together, Aunt Eula and I would survey the garden and make plans for our next gardening day. She taught me to cherish the beauty of the world through such plants as the spider lily.

    Later we would settle in her big and comfortable living room chair. She would read The Grit newspaper to me, as we rested from our work. The silence of her home was a comfort – no blaring TV or radio, certain things were done at certain times. A quiet routine of work and play, a time for meditation, a time for family and friends, a time for church, and best of all, a time for me.

    After many years I close my eyes and slip back to those sweet days to smell and enjoy the fragrance of Aunt Eula’s gardens once again, with the super-star spider lily on parade. This fall I hope you will allow the spider lily time in your life, but hurry. The plant will only be with us a few weeks, until it will retreat back to the ground – once more, just a memory.  

    The memory trip choice belongs to you … the spider lily provides the inspiration.

      Anne B. McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her website: