Irisian supremacy


When my late-husband and I were first married, my mother-in-law had some beautiful purple irises in her back yard. Upon my admiration, she gave me a few to plant at our own hacienda.

The next spring, I watched the green leaves burst forth from their slumber and marveled at the regal lavender hued flowers that soon followed. They were a tall, proud addition to my little marigolds and peonies. And then…. Those little botanical beauties went forth and multiplied. A lot. In what was an obvious bid for irisian supremacy, they eventually took over the entire garden plot, choking out the marigolds first and then, after depriving the peonies of the sunlight they needed to thrive they were the only thing left.

In a fit of pique, and determined that the marigolds should have not perished in vain, I embarked on a one day quest to pull up every iris from the front of the house. Most of them surrendered without too much of a battle and were summarily dispatched to the trash bin, but one especially recalcitrant plant had me tugging so hard that I unceremoniously landed on my backside when it finally gave way. As I tumbled backward, and let off a string of curse words sure to make a drunken sailor envious, I hurled my uprooted vanquished opponent over the chain link fence onto the nondescript hillside.

That hillside is a tangle of weeds, shrubs and, other than being a mini highway for passing deer, pretty much a wasted space. Too steep to plant on, drainage too severe for any grasses to stay put. A fitting place for the demise of the iris, I thought. Last spring, I was unable to do any planting. The garden plot was barren. I found myself waxing nostalgic for something with a pop of color. My mother in law has long since passed, and her irises are but a memory. I thought about it again recently– if life would just settle down, maybe I could plant some tulip bulbs before fall. Maybe even … find an iris? They’re hardy, perennials and, with some pruning, they truly are glorious. And yes, perhaps I had a few pangs of guilt over the irises I had so callously tossed away.

Planning anything for the future had been hit or miss for us lately, and mostly miss. I needed a sign. And then, while in the yard yesterday, I glanced over the fence. The offending iris that I’d hurled onto the hillside of doom was making its comeback. Unbeknownst to me, it had spent the last few years rooting, surviving and finally, pushing up triumphantly through the weeds and the rocks, defying the wasteland. Lord knows, it didn’t choose that spot. It just happened to land there. But that didn’t stop it from putting down strong roots and making a stand. In many ways, we’ve all been callously tossed aside at one time or another in our lives and even possibly found ourselves in inhospitable territory. We have a choice, you and I. We can either succumb to the rocky terrain, or take this time to plant some strong roots in preparation for our own new beginnings.

  1. This is beautiful Judi. You are a terrific writer by painting a picture and making them come to life. Like the Iris. 🙂 (btw, purple Iris are my favorite flower, my Mom grew them) Still thinking of you and praying for your healing.

  2. So many things people say will take too long to accomplish (solving immigration, the debt etc.). But if we’d started a generation ago we’d be past them by now.

    I like your attitude. Let’s start solving things.

  3. What a great story! I do have a story kinda like that Iris, only mine has to do with some bad choices I was making in my life. Over eight years ago those choices were uprooted and I was sent to seek recovery. Today my roots are planted in a twelve step program, and life is wonderful.

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