I appreciate Rebecca’s conscious using of this challenging time for personal exploration and I am fascinated by what she tells us about the secret of the waxed amaryllis.
by Rebecca Crichton, Seattle, Washington
Last week, I wrote about the daily dose of wonder I give myself and others. I give the waxed amaryllis bulbs from Trader Joe’s out like candy to people who I encounter as I go through the season. I gave one to the Real Change salesperson who I’ve seen at that store for years. My hair stylist and massage therapist look forward to them every year. I gave one to my 100-year-old friend in Bellingham and one for the 90th birthday of my daughter’s mother-in-law. I gave one to my Spanish-speaking cleaning lady and hope she understands about not doing anything to make them grow.
This is the miracle of them. They require nothing to give their gift. The bulbs grow almost 2 inches a day once they have indirect light and reach heights of at least two feet, with their four-bloomed buds opening and fanning out to reveal deep throats with curling stamens. I can’t look at them without feeling wonder. Once the blooms are finished, the leaves emerge and can last for months, even years, if you strip off the wax and plant them.
Finally, after all this time, I wondered, how they do what they do? What is the secret of the waxed amaryllis bulbs? As we all now know, just ask Google. And sure enough, there were several posts on how to make your own waxed bulbs, complete with videos and explanations. To summarize: soak the bulbs in water for several hours, let them dry a bit, cut off their roots and basal plate (the bottom) and dip them in wax. The reason for removing the basal plate is that, without their roots, the bulb puts all its energy into blooming.
I let that sink in a bit. When it can’t root, it blooms. The bulb has all its energy stored inside. And I think, what does that mean for me?
During this different and challenging time, I find myself writing daily, accompanying myself in my life as I continue to restrict my movement and don’t have people in my home to share food and life with.
I am starting to capture the ‘Glimmers’ I get as I go through my day. The term was used by Pam Houston, a well-known writer whose writing workshop I took in October. She collects ‘Glimmers,’ something that catches her attention that she might combine with another glimmer and will eventually be part of what she writes. I loved hearing that idea. It is how I have worked as a writer and I felt validated in my own process.
Now I wouldn’t say my roots have been severed so much as that they have turned inside to fuel my growth. They have a whole life’s energy in them and now is the time to allow myself to bloom.