One day a few years ago, when we still lived in Hyde Park, I was walking Travis home from the intramural fields where he used to love to play “virtual soccer,” running like a mad dog back and forth along the fence as if he were a goalie. Even as a puppy he could judge where that ball was going to go in the instant right before it was kicked. Now and then he would run right into the midst of play, completely indifferent to how hard the ball hit him. But I digress.
As we crossed Avenue G, I looked to my left and saw a huge flowerpot with a shriveled-up ugly plant that had been set out for yard waste pickup. As sickly as it looked, I knew immediately that it was a night-blooming cereus, and I knew I had to have it. Shoving shyness aside in the face of a botanical acquisition, I rang the doorbell and asked the woman if she’d really meant to throw it away.
“Yes, we set it our for pick-up. We don’t even know what it is. You can have it if you want.”
Driven to the brink of paranoia by the thought that someone would surely recognize this great treasure and make off with it before I could summon help carrying the thing, giving not a single thought to the well-being of my fragile back, I hoisted the heavy pot as best I could and stumbled toward our alley and in through the back gate.
I had a night-blooming cereus.
Selenicereus grandiflorus is one of a number of night-blooming cacti. I took that original one out of its raggedy potting soil and tucked it into a nice clean pot with some yummy new potting mix. It thrived. It would thrive for anyone.
And then I started waiting for flowers.
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|Aesthetic Nightmare at Night, with Raindrops on the Lens|
If you’re patient, and vigilant, one night you’ll be able to stand there and watch these blooms unfold, petal by petal, deeper and more elaborate than my paltry photos can convey.
They look like a world a fairy might live in.