Monday, August 28, 2006

A Hot Whisper is all it Takes

Last Thursday and Friday afternoons it rained big fat drops for all of thirty seconds. It was enough to accentuate the dust on the white plastic chairs on the lanai in a bold polka dot pattern, an anti-spot of white surrounded by rippling layers of dust in varying degrees of thickness. The two relatively spotless chairs were the one I sit in and the one Greyman has been crashed out on for the last week as his current nesting spot.

We get teased by rain more often in Kihei than actual rain itself. Most of our twelve annual inches comes in the winter with low pressure cold fronts. In the summer there can be mauka ( mountain ) showers that can get large enough to drop some water at lower elevations on the leeward side. This used to happen more often it seems but even in the past they were quick fat drops or sudden downpours that lasted less than two minutes.

Sometimes it only has to be the faintest whisper of a rain but that is the only thing it seems that will induce my Zephyranthes rosea to open themselves for reproduction. It must be a late summer or fall rain when the temperatures are hot. The more ample only slightly cooler winters rains don't cut it. A steady supply of fake irrigation rain does not fool them. It must fall from the sky. Maybe it is a hot wet gravity boosted slap that gets their juices flowing. Nature has some very interesting chemical messages still hidden away from us.

I found this dark pink little bulb blooming in a tall grass pasture that had to be crossed to hike through the Bamboo forest to Waimoku Falls at Haleakala National Park . Naturally on my way back from the hike I stopped to look for seeds and found one large but still green pod to pick. A decade later from that one pod of seeds I have produced thousands and thousands of bulbs.

Last week they received the hot whisper they needed and tomorrow morning I will be rewarded again by a striking but delicate display of ephemeral beauty.

Click the image for a larger view.


Monday morning bright and early we capture the small dark pink Rain Lily in its full flush of fresh bloom. Its larger cousin with a very pale blush of pink Zephyranthes grandiflora looks on. Not quite as temperamental and fussy, the Z. grandiflora will bloom on and off all season once it warms up. It doesn't seem as dependent on the hard slap of genuine rain drops to show off its magic.

My larger light pink Zephyr Lily began as seed from the house in Florida where I grew up. It too has been multiplied into the thousands of bulbs. It seeds itself in the garden with much more abandon than its smaller cousin.

There are some non-native plants I will not feel bad about letting loose in Hawaii. Perhaps one day like a hillside of golden Daffodils in the early spring up north, a hillside in Hawaii will erupt in a show of proud pink after a good hard rain.


christin m p in massachusetts said...

I clicked on that Zephyranthes rosea link, and it looks like you've managed to accomplish something very difficult, as it doesn't even list Zone 11 as a place where pink rain lilies can grow.

...a hot wet gravity boosted slap... Hmmm

It looks like you could have some talent for writing other kinds of fiction too...

Pam/Digging said...

They sound like our native rain lilies. Only real rain will do. How do they know??

We got 30 seconds of rain today too---a tease but not a rain that will ease our two-month stretch of rainless days. Maybe tomorrow.

Kelvin said...

Hello from a blogger down under in New Zealand. i was searching the blog world when your blog popped up. You have a really great blog with great photos. I will mention your blog on my blog Around The World In 80 Blogs if you don't mind, as it is worth sharing.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Yes Kelvin I would be happy to be on your "Around the World in 80 Blogs" project. I checked it out and it looks very interesting and then Blogger it seems crashed for a spell.

One day I hope to visit your exotic Island!