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I Need to Go Watch a Flower Open

September 5, 2021

Another Way for week of August 27, 2021

Throwback Column: I Need to Go Watch a Flower Open

[Columnist’s note: I’m on vacation this week but sharing a column from 27 years ago, when my Dad was still living. Originally written in 1994.]

Since my father retired from farming, he takes great joy in raising all sorts of flowers, shrubs, vines, and fruit trees on his little acre of Eden.

This past summer, I think my parents’ greatest fun was watching an evening primrose open up each evening. Dad phoned me one night and said, “I just wish you could be here to watch our show. Do you remember Aunt Arlene’s primrose?”

Daughter Tanya at Niagara Falls flower bed.

Well, I didn’t really, but he launched into the whole story of how he had gotten her flower bush after she died and that it was bursting forth into glorious yellow flowers each evening about 8:45 during the long days of summer. Kind of like Old Faithful.

If you know as little about evening primroses as I did before Daddy got hooked, each blossom opens up like a slow motion shot on TV. You can watch it bloom before your eyes. On a big plant, that means a hundred or more surprises, one right after another. And each blossom only lasts one night. By morning, the blossoms start to droop. By noon, they are shriveled up. But the next evening another bunch of blossoms open up.

Mom and Dad invited everyone they know over to watch the show over the summer. The TV was forgotten.

I was afraid I would have to wait another summer to see their spectacle. Luckily, though, it was still putting on its nightly show when I got to visit my parents in late summer as part of a quick business trip.

My parents came to meet me and pick up the two children who had traveled with me, so that I could get to a meeting at the workaholic time of 5-7 p.m. on a Saturday evening. My father said, “Try to get home by 7:40 and you can see the primrose blossom!”

The meeting droned on and on. Seven o’clock came and went. It was a 20-minute drive to my folks’ place in the country. Would I make it? I started purposefully gathering up my things. My boss looked like he was going to call an after-meeting meeting. How could I possibly tell him I couldn’t stay, that I had to go watch a flower open?

Not to fear. The meeting ended at last. I beat a hasty retreat and rushed to my parents’ home. I remembered my Mom saying earlier the primrose had caused some thoughtful discussions among the people who had come to watch it bloom, and how life was like the primrose. Life is short; in the space of eternity, all of us bloom for only an instant, an eyeblink of time. Those who knew my Aunt Arlene remembered her and how she had died too young. People talked about how important it is to watch the flowers bloom, whatever they are –including excusing ourselves from meetings and appointments at times to take care of the things that matter.

Evening Primrose at our house, circa 1996, with apologies for the poor photo.

I flew into their driveway. It was 7:45 p.m. Had I missed the show?

As usual when we keep our priorities in line, the good Lord sees to it that there is time enough to attend to work, to family, and to smell the flowers.

One of my daughters ran to me from their garage. “Mommy, they’re starting! They’re starting!” We oohed and awed and took pictures and ate Dad’s good grapes in the gathering coolness. The show went on for another good half hour, so I needn’t have worried.

Beautiful irises in spring, one of my favorite flowers now.


What flowers have you enjoyed this summer? I’ve enjoyed my husband’s cousin sharing his love of many flowers in their yard and on their deck via Facebook. I never would have expected him to be a flower guy. 🙂

You can still request some helpful, stress relieving bookmarks titled “101 Ways to Manage Stress.” Send requests to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. I didn’t know you in 1994, but I can relate to the memories now and floral beauty.
    Enjoy your break!

    • My actual writing break came last week when our daughter was here to help with canning and other work a few days, bless her! Then her husband and some of her in-laws joined us for Saturday-Sunday. It was great, thanks!

  2. What a wonderful experience! The only primrose I’ve had is the Texas wildflower primrose – much different than your Dad’s. Now I’m itching to get one of those!
    The iris are gorgeous. They’ve been my favorite flowers for years. I love springtime, when all the blooms begin – each color/species in its own time, giving me a long lasting array to enjoy.
    Enjoy your vacation!

  3. I think of Texas as hot and dusty and dry — without a lot of flowers. Do you have irises, tulips, daffodils?? I need to visit in spring–we’ve only been there in hot summertimes. Thanks for adding your three cents!

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