in which I watch a moonflower bloom

Since probably forever, my mother has had a knack for finding weird random adventures for our family. The latest in a long line of shenanigans came a few Fridays ago, when she packed my father and I1 into Emerson Cod, our green Subaru2, and we drove to see the moonflower.

My mother heard about the moonflower from her coworker at the LDS Conference Center Gardens3. A woman in Sandy, Utah, grows and obsesses over these flowers, and she invites anyone and everyone to come over to her house and watch them.  She even provides a bench. It’s a little bit weird, sitting in a stranger’s yard on a bench facing a blank wall, staring at her flowerbeds.

So let me explain, lest you think us mad4: the lifespan of the moonflower is a single night. It blooms only once, in the moonlight, remains open for that night, and then, when the sun rises, it dies. And the most amazing thing is that when it blooms in the moonlight, it goes from a tightly closed bud to wide-open flower in less than thirty seconds.

This is a moonflower. Not the moonflower we saw. It belongs to someone on the internet.

Moonflowers are the most amazing flower I have ever seen, and with a horticulture-enthusiast mother like mine, I’ve seen a lot of amazing flowers. It’s like watching one of those sped-up National Geographic movies of trees growing—it seems too cool to be real. Even after I watched forty of them go from tight-fisted buds to open palms of petals in seconds, as we walked back to the car, I started doubting whether or not I had actually seen it. It was that remarkable.

I was also overwhelmed by the poignancy of the whole affair. The flowers only live for one night. How utterly heartbreaking. But how lovely, that the moonflowers are so excited to live and experience ever second possible of their one night of life that they open so quickly. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. They open quickly because they don’t want to waste a second of their lives.

I read so much fantasy that sometimes I forget how the real world astounds me. Even in my own backyard, the territory I grew up in for eighteen years, there are things I have not seen, things I did not even know existed like flowers that bloom in fragile moonlight before your eyes. I have been pining for Boston lately, but the moonflowers were a gentle reminder that beauty and happiness can be found anywhere. Life is not about where you’re living, but how you’re living when you’re there5.

 

  1. The MT was missing in action
  2. Latest in a long line of Subarus
  3. It’s very weird that both my mother and I are working at Temple Square right now. If you had asked me a year ago who the two people in my life least likely to be working at Temple Square were, I would have answered me and my mom.
  4. The jury’s still out on it.
  5. And on that Hallmark card of a note, expect sometime in the near future to see a book from me with moonflowers making an appearance somewhere in it. It’s too magical to ignore.
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4 thoughts on “in which I watch a moonflower bloom

  1. heidikins says:

    My grandma had moonflowers in her back garden…they are gorgeous and magical and so, so pretty.

    xox

  2. Dude! Thank you for posting this! I am geeking out right now because my next-door neighbor showed me one of these when I was about seven, and it was incredible, and when I remembered it years later, my parents nearly had me convinced that I’d imagined it!

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