Lilies of the Field

Near our yard’s edges, orange lilies accentuate the breathtaking beauty of street signs: speed limit, street name, even dead-end.

Surely, no one deliberately planted flowers of such pathetic pedigree. These gangly commoners share none of the refinement of day lilies, their aristocratic cousins.

Whoever nurtured mine did not stop with signs. She/he invited them to surround the patio, where an army of orange sentinels stand at attention. Neither horizontal rain, windstorm, nor hail beat them down. Nothing short of a nuclear blast prevents their annual return.

I know this because their anonymous planter also nurtured them around our mailbox — until my husband, replacing it, obliterated the lily bulbs.

Undaunted, the invaders returned, only to be mowed down again and again. And again.

Stubborn? Worse than a gang of telemarketers.

Why, then, did I transfer orange lily shoots to a spot near our front door?

Um … maybe the gardener who introduced the lilies wasn’t so dumb. Perhaps, like me, she/he was desperate. I had nicknamed that flower bed the “Sahara.”

Morning glories, petunias, zinnias, marigolds — none of my usual stalwarts had survived it. Would I have to comb the Internet for Martian cacti?

Instead, I planted lily shoots. Three days later, they had not shriveled.

Gasp! What had I done?

Yet, I could not yank them. I just … kind of forgot to water them.

Finally, the hopeful sprigs disintegrated into yellow July dust. I could forget my embarrassing temporary insanity.

Until the following March. Tiny, green leaves stuck out, na-na-na-boo-boo tongues that grew into spindly plants.

How could I pull them? They have flourished unpampered.

I rarely talk to the lilies. Other plants do not socialize with them. We all fear they will take over the yard — maybe the world.

Though I wouldn’t mind if they conquered the crabgrass.

Vases chock full of lilies do brighten my mantels. My dining room table. My piano. …

All right, so my deep, dark secret is out.

I have plebian tastes. I like orange lilies.

These flowers scorn Better Homes and Gardens ratings. They grow in vacant lots, parking lots, behind Big Lots. Their determination to cover their world with beauty knows no limits.

I must have passed down my plebian tastes to a daughter. Scorning roses for her senior picture, she held a cluster of orange lilies.

Funny, her people bouquets consist of the unsung, too. She gathers needy children, cherishing beauty bypassed by others. Maybe the wealth of orange lilies edging her fence inspire her days.

As mine should.

Anyone blessed with orange-lilyfied street signs — even a dead-end one — is bound to see her world in a beautiful way.


Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What “plebian” flowers do you like?

8 thoughts on “Lilies of the Field

  1. Becky

    I love them, too! As a kid I don’t recall any other color. County roads were lined with them. Love your writing.

    1. rachael

      Thanks, Becky! I feel the same way about Queen Anne’s lace. If we had to plant and pamper these wildflowers (aka weeds), we’d enter them in exotic flower shows! Glad you enjoy my posts 🙂 Happy summer!

    1. rachael

      Amazing how a flower can bring back a multitude of memories, Kathy! With my grandma, it was morning glories–she always had clouds of them around her trailer 🙂 May the lilies this July bring back lots of sweet moments, and blessings on your day!

  2. Martha Wenger

    When I was a kid, we had a lot of orange lilies on the west side of our farmhouse. When I was a kid and no one was looking, sometimes I would break the lily off close to the base of the flower and sip the sweet nectar out of the flower. A wonderful sweet flavor! Then I would hide the flower among the many stems of the flowers. No one ever found out what I had done!!!

    1. rachael

      Ooooh, Martha, you wicked kid! May the sneaky sweetness of those moments give you lots of smiles today!

  3. Angie K.

    I’ve always loved these lilies, but Queen Anne’s lace remains my favorite of this type of otherwise unintentional beauty in the summer growth. ????

    1. rachael

      I’ve always loved Queen Anne’s lace, too, Angie–even memorized a poem about it when I was in fourth grade 🙂 Both Queen Anne’s lace and orange lilies are God’s summer gifts to us, more evidences of His artistry and His love–maybe not intentional on our part, but certainly on His! So glad we celebrate their beauty together, friend, as we do many aspects of His creation. Have a blessed day!


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