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21: lilypads

Dear Friend,


What’s new with you? We hope that your long weekend involves some fun and adventure! Frank has been working in northern California this week, while I have been visiting friends in southern California. Frank and I will be back together in a few days. I know how you will miss his photos, but my cellphone and I did our best to capture the subject of today's letter.

Lilypads grow in water and attract wildlife. And as you know, I love water. If birds or fish or animals are somehow involved, all the better!  In fact, a very memorable childhood calamity took place sometime around my 6th birthday –  lilypads were directly involved, as were frogs.


My parents were often asked to sing duets for weddings. They both had beautiful voices and harmonized like a couple of pros, or angels, or pro-angels!


We made the journey as a family in our station-wagon to a venue several hours away from home. My Dad drove, my Mom wore her perfume. My brother was a baby. My sister and I had to wear fancy, uncomfortable, clothes. I had on an itchy, purple dress with a silly white pinafore, white socks with ruffles near my ankles, and my pointy black-patent-leather shoes. (Alice of Wonderland, look out)!


It was a long drive and we were all hungry. Dinner would be after the wedding. There would be cake.


When we finally arrived, the first thing I noticed was the huge pond in the driveway surrounded by a climbable rock wall. The pond encircled a gently trickling fountain. Lilypads floated on the still, dark, water.

Frogs croaked.


My parents whisked us across the parking lot into the building and then they went on to rehearse. Old ladies vied to hold my brother. I have no idea where my sister went. But I do know that I wandered back outside and across the parking lot in the dark, to the fountain. There were frogs calling me.


I climbed up onto the rock wall and looked back at the lights of the building. The fountain was pretty dark but I could see where the lilypads covered the water. I breathed in the cool, night, pond-water-scented, air. I was all alone and had a long time to wait for cake.


A frog jumped in near the fountain. Another croaked, and another. I knew that if I was really careful, I could walk across the water to the middle, where the frogs were. The nearest lilypad was just a step away. I had good balance for a little kid. On one foot, I stood, arms out to the side. No problem. I stretched my fancy black shoe out toward the floating lilypad and stepped down. Under I went!

To say that I got in trouble would be politely mild, yet, there is nothing that equates to these childhood gifts of humility. I shivered through the long wedding ceremony and emitted pond stench. My braids, dripped. Such changes… soggy moss green socks and pinafore, the grape-purple in the dress, toned down dramatically; my shoes would never be the same.


I smelled bad and did not get cake.


Those lilypads did not hold my weight. But, there are some that may have. The Victoria Amazonia, for example, grow to be immense! So much so that smallish people can sit on them as they float quietly upon a pond. Here is an example of a Record Breaking Water Lily.


In all things, nature has to find a balance. For instance, lilypads can invade a pond, spreading across the top, choking out sunlight from other plants, making life beneath the water very uninhabitable for fish and the huge variety of other creatures who rely on the environment of a healthy pond. Everyone from microscopic water fleas, to beetles, dragonflies and birds, newts, frogs, fish, raccoons, deer and countless more… all benefit from access to a healthy pond.

David Attenborough’s video explains more about the importance of having a natural balance in his video: “The giant water lily is VISCIOUS!”  


Is a lily flower the same as a lotus flower? No. They are two different plants, both enjoying water and sunshine.


Lotus flower - grow on a stem above the water

Water lily - grow on the water and come in a variety of colors

In this video, Geoff Cochran of ‘Gardening-Australia’ explains the difference between Lotuses (Nelumbo) and Water lilies (Nymphaea), how they each propagate and how you don’t need a pond to add them to your garden. Watch Lilies and Lotus


And, waterlilies have health and nutritional benefits, as well. I didn’t collect recipes to share, but I learned that the seeds, leaves, roots and flowers are all edible. I hope to try waterlily soup, or a salad of stems… To learn about the medicinal qualities of waterlilies, this quick video lists The Uses and Benefits of the American White water lily.


Thank you for taking this time out of your busy day to read Tracks by the Post! Please Write to Us and let us know how you are doing, we’d love to hear from you!


Wishing you have a lovely week ahead!


Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank


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