The amaryllis or belladonna lily, the one I’ve been recording, is progeny of a bulb given to me nearly 30 years ago. A long time ago I gave my painter friend a daughter bulb, and she returned a granddaughter to bring here to Washington. Usually it blooms for the New Year, but skipped last year, so I was so glad to see the start of a bud.
With smaller flowers than the showy amaryllis we force for the holidays, these plants bloom the color of a Creamsicle. When the bud emerged, the only leaf extended from a smaller bulb rooted beside. Impossibly spindly at first, the stalk grew fatter and sturdier just in time to support the buds. And then they fell.
By depicting the amaryllis during my time off, I recognized I still wanted to tell what was going on. In his beautiful little book “The Art of Description: World into Word,” Mark Doty suggests there might be a problem of “life not having been really lived until it is narrated.” I surely missed the narrating.
In spite of enjoying the freedom to wander my mind, I also missed discovering in the way the poet William Stafford described: “A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought if he had not started to say them.”
I appreciated all comments and encouragements at the end of the year. You who show up to read provide what Brenda Ueland says someone who wants to write needs – ”…persons who, for some mysterious reason, leave you full of energy, feed you with ideas, or, more obscurely still, have the effect of filling you with self confidence and eagerness to write.” What a gift. Truly, my spirits rose.
In her third book “Prospect,” Anne Truitt explains the motivation to write this way: “Life is a lonely business. My impulse is to hold out my hand to readers. By recording my life as clearly as I can (while retaining my reticences) I offer them my companionship, a kind of friendship.”
It’s a happy thing to touch another in the process of trying to describe my place in the world. Including my mistakes. I shouldn’t have watered the amaryllis again so soon. I debated, and then pictured moist Kauai, with afternoon rain squalls – brief, but frequent and drenching. But my potted bulb had no leaves and no way to process extra water. I’ll do better with the second bud. And I’ll try hard with the second year also!
Thank you for reading – I’m glad to be back!