I must depart from my normal daylily-doings to share a story I was recently reminded of...another one of karma.
However obvious the inference is in the phrase "Nothing is free," somethings you need to hear things twice before you internalize their meaning.
And sometimes you need to break out in the most horrible poison sumac on the face of the earth and be told by the doctor you could lose some skin before it sinks in.
I present to you hymenocallis occidentalis, otherwise referred to in my vocabulary as the "poison lilies" or "the clearest lesson I ever learned."
This photo was taken 15 years ago in the woods of Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee. While hiking along a bubbling creek, I came across this very clump of beauties growing in the woods. This is the photo I took that day. I was young. I was naive. And I wanted these in my own yard. I can only admit this because I know many of you reading have wielded your spade in more than one semi-illegal place, pilfering bulbs, cuttings, roots and shoots for your own gardens. This is such a story.
The ground was soft and workable. I dug two bulbs out easily with my bare hands, carefully packed them in my backpack and went on my muddy way after washing my hands in the rushing creek nearby. This was the last day of the trip, and after we emerged from this hike, we piled in the car to head home.
In the car heading home (about a five hour drive), I develop a crazy itch between my fingers - all of my fingers. No rash to be found, just itchy, itchy, itchy. I didnt think much more of it until about nine hours later, when I awoke to stinging pain and this all over my hands.
I could see it crawling up my forearms. I could see the blisters forming full of yellow liquid. I could also see the writing on the wall - I should not have messed with mother nature. It was clear that everywhere I had dirt on my hands from digging in the woods, I now had a horrible rash. Feel sorry for me yet? You shouldn't.
Long story short, after I mulled over the punishment for stealing plants from a state park and then carrying said plants over three state lines, I went to the ER and was told it was the worst case of poison sumac they had ever seen. The blisters between my fingers were so bad I looked like I had webbed hands. It was one of the most horrible self-inflicted situations I had ever caused for myself and it landed me with two saran-wrapped forearms for a week. I couldnt work, shower or use my hands at all (don't spend too much time imagining all I couldn't do...)
I have since returned to those rolling hills in Montgomery Bell and with subterfuge, planted 50 naturalizing daffodils in the same woods where I stole the poison lilies. I have also donated heavily to their conservancy fund. I have also experienced theft from my own home garden this year and thought of this story. When I realized plants from my garden had been stolen under the cover of night this summer, I shook my head at myself and told me again that I shouldn't have stolen those plants. 15+ years later, it haunts me. Now that I know more about gardening, the gardening world, and the larger system that is my karmic world, I still can't believe I dug those bulbs.
It's not nice to (try to) fool mother nature.