By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s a cliché. And, like most clichés, the popularity of its usage comes from its truth.
Such is the case with some ephemeral marvels I’ve witnessed during my daily travels this week. Perhaps you noticed them, too?
It began Monday, on my first drive to work for the week.
The rains have brought good news and bad for many across our region. For our neighbors to the west — those in Hidalgo County towns like Weslaco, Mission and Edinburg, the perpetual inundation has been an unwelcome guest upon soils still struggling to recover from the freak downpours earlier this summer.
But, as was the case with those summer rains, the Laguna Madre region fared more favorably. Here, the rains have been gentle. They’ve caressed the land just enough to green grasses parched by heat, and invigorate potted plants slumped from drought-induced water restrictions.
This time around, we’ve gotten good batches of rain every single day — mostly while we sleep. And it’s been that gentle, yet persistent, patter of precipitation that has coaxed forth dozens of tiny miracles.
All along roadsides and verdant patches of grass throughout the Laguna Madre, one can see pale white specks among the green. Slender stalks capped by six dove-white petals fanning out towards slate grey skies still heavy with the promise of water.
They’re rain lilies. However, some may know them by more wondrous names, like fairy lily or magic lily. And indeed, they do invoke a sense of the fantastic and the mystical. One could be forgiven for imagining that tiny Tinkerbell-sized fairies fly among the funnel-shaped blooms, such is the whimsy they inspire.
Rain lilies can bloom in a variety of colors, including pink and yellow; however, here in the Rio Grande Valley, I’ve only ever seen them come in white. Bright yellow stamens stand in warm contrast at the flower’s center.
It takes a good rain to bring them out of hiding. After a couple of days of the wet stuff, if the temperatures stay reasonable enough, and the ground pliant enough, you’ll wake up one morning to find that Tinkerbell and her friends have left a collection of them on your lawn.
They grow singly. One flower per stem that rises above the rain-replenished grass. And they only last a day or two. That’s it.
They can hide for years in the soil. You’d never even know they were there, waiting for a chance to bloom. Then one day, dozens and dozens of white blossoms bring their light to the greyness of a dreary day, a shadowy grey week.
And just as quickly and quietly as they came, they disappear again. Just about the time that the rain dew dries from the blades of grass and the earth becomes firm enough to walk on without your feet sinking into the loam, they’re gone again. Until the next big rain.
Maybe. If you’re lucky, and the lilies are feeling up to it.
So, while the wet weather is still with us — and boy, is it going to stick around for a couple of days — take a moment to look at the patches of grass nearest you. You just might see some floral fairies of your own.
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