usually aquatic vegetation does not photograph well because there is too much gravity in the air as opposed to the water, and because when aquatic plants dry, they they shrivel up into something resembling a wad of abandoned fishing net. this water lily, however, dried into an elegant, still flexible, three dimensional substance that looks tough enough to make a water lily colored upper for a men’s loafer.
dried lily pad leaf
i don’t usually love these bright saturated summer colors, but i am feeling a sudden fondness for them as i begin packing for france. soon i will leave minnesota high summer behind for a low, prickly landscape of mostly olive green. there are compensations, however.
after i took yesterday’s photo, i placed the white lily flower in a bowl of water. as evening progressed, the lily closed up. i assumed it was because i had violated it by snipping off its stem. but the enormous bud was as elegant in it’s contained simplicity as the blossom had been elegant in its gaudy exuberance. so i photographed the bud. and then this morning it magically appeared to rise from the dead, opening up slowly and surely into full open palmed bloom. so i googled american white water lily, and sure enough–the flower closes up every evening, and reopens every morning. seven yeas of STILL blog, seven years of paying attention, seven years of living on a lake with water lilies surrounding our dock, and yesterday i learned about this daily ritual for the first time.
american white lily bud (Nymphaea odorata)
i intended the white lily to be the featured artist of this particular drama, but look how the bit players have flexed their muscles and veins, and, insisting that lily pads area about leaves not flowers, stolen the show.
american white water lily with lily pads (Nymphaea odorata)
beauty in conformity
look at the arc of that leaf stem, and how it is beautiful precisely because it had to conform to the curve of the acorn cup that was originally an obstacle, and that became, in the end, a sort of life partner. don’t we all deform ourselves into the beautiful shapes of those who are closest to us?
white oak leaf with acorn cups