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We were not expecting them this year. After all, it has been several years since they visited us. It wasn't always that way. Their visits began about 15 or maybe 20 years ago. We would always count on their arrival about the end of July or the first days of August (when this is being written). Sometimes it was a little later, about when Decatur was celebrating with its barbecue. Once their arrival coincided with the annual Gravette Day celebration.

It really didn't matter. We knew they would arrive and we would enjoy their visit. But about four years ago they didn't make an appearance and didn't until this week. Was it because of hot summers or drought conditions that they curtailed their annual visit? That surely wasn't why they deserted us; it's almost always hot and dry during the middle of summer. We assumed the friendship was over. But why? That's why it was such a surprise when we happened to glance through the front window and there they were, right by the driveway, as if they had just stepped out of a car. Or was it an SUV? After all, they are a good size family.

Miracles sometimes happen, I guess. They never let us know when they were coming, and this year it really was a complete surprise when they showed up. Maybe that's why they're called surprise lilies.

We used to call them by another name, in jest, of course. But it was what we called them for as long as I can remember. Many readers will probably recall calling them that in the good old days; they'll also realize why we won't take a chance of calling them....

Isn't it amazing how many things are referred to as being politically incorrect? We've come a long way, haven't we?

But back to our visitors, their bright, yet pale, pink blossoms appeared overnight. It usually takes a day or two to open their blossoms, but we didn't notice that evolutional period. After all, their pre-blossom green foliage, which always turns brown, hadn't been noticed for several years ... make that the past four years. But why had it been missed? Now things began to fall into place. Sometime, say four years ago, that green glob fell victim to the riding mower during that first early spring mowing job. Do you suppose I followed the same mowing path for four years? I hate to think I had been that careless. Deep down I wonder what else had been eviscerated.

Fortunately, this spring I must have changed directions with the mower. Maybe it was because another plant was in the way and the green glob was missed. It's during that green-up period that buds for blossoms form before the green dies to a brown mess of clippings which had been raked up to put between the rows of corn in the garden. By the way, those and jonquil clippings worked really well.

So now it's time to celebrate "their" arrival and enjoy their visit even if it is for a short period of time. They quickly fade away. As you drive around towns in the area you'll see displays in many yards. Somehow during the past three years, it usually caused wondering why the ladies visited other yards and not this one. Hmmm. Whoops, I almost gave that old time name away. Old habits die hard ... sometimes never.

Now it's time to be patient for the arrival of another surprise lily that makes an appearance later this summer. What? Yep, "they"will be showing up in area yards. Not many, but several yards will be brightened with the brilliant red spider lilies waving their slender spider-like arms in the breeze. They're just trying to grab your attention.

If you happen to be driving around in southern Arkansas or other Southern states, you'll be treated to displays of these waving spider ladies. There are often large clumps along secondary highways. As an aside, you can try to kill the words and music of a great old Southern song, but somehow it lingers in the mind forever and often is heard being whistled through lips that forget the words but enjoy the music ... but never at a football game. Hopefully, nothing will happen to that famous "whoooooooopig ... sooey." But you never know in this unsettling time.

Enough ... so now a couple of reminders: Now is time for shrubs and overhanging limbs at street or roadway corners to be trimmed back to help drivers avoid hitting a car ... or even an unsuspecting runner.

Someone asked me how cold it had been in Gravette, so I'm breaking the no-weather promise from the last 'cuff. The coldest day in Gravette, which is the coldest date ever in the state of Arkansas, occurred on February 15, 1905, when the mercury dipped to minus 29 ... that's 29 degrees below zero. The weather station at that time was east of town near a one-time "Pond" post office, which later was combined with Gravette. A.F. Stevens was possibly the weather observer, but no local records are available before 1926. A couple of minus zero readings (-24) near that mark occurred during the 1930s. I'll have to look them up. That's the fun part of weathering. Hmmm ... that didn't make much sense ... but it was fun.

Dodie Evans is the former owner and long-time editor of the Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: After absence, visitors returned

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