On a recent walk along the Endor Trail and Greenway in Sanford, Julie and I encountered some friends we hadn't seen in a while. They joined us as we completed our hike, and shared our delight when we ran into another old friend, the wild Easter lily or rain lily.
High on the wooded hillside above the creekside trail, scattered faces of white gazed forth from the shadows, proclaiming days of warmth and rain and renewal.
After our brief encounter along the greenway, we spied a larger community of these lovely lilies, sometimes called Atamasco lilies in reference to their scientific name, Zephyranthes atamasca, along the same rural byway where we met last April.
The hot afternoon and an approaching front conspired to obscure the sun, but she peeked around and peered through the frisky clouds as best she could, constantly altering the lighting along the muddy creek bank where our friends convened.
In the few moments we shared, it was obvious the atamascos are thriving in their current locale;
and although their numbers are much diminished from the days when botanists and settlers marvelled as thousands upon thousands of blossoms transformed the damp Carolina meadows with an undulating layer of mid-spring snowfall,
these individuals seemed to have no interest in the past, reveling in the warmth and light of their very own spring day in the here and the now.
The atamasco was early categorized as a lily, but it actually has more in common with the amaryllis, which is also sometimes called a lily.
Atamasco is unique enough, however, that it has been assigned its own genus, Zephyranthes, after Zephyr, the Greek god of the west wind who each year brings the gentle rains of spring.
Greetings, friend lily. It wouldn't be Spring without you!