Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ditch Lilies and Other Thoughts on Summer

For me, Memorial Day is the unofficial launch of summer. Summertime is—as one songwriter put it—"when the living is easy," or at least, easier. And life seems full of possibilities.

Summer means long, lazy days with as little routine as possible. The kids are out of school and in my current season of motherhood, home from a year at school. There's more time to catch up on my TBR pile of books, more time for fun and more time to simply enjoy life with those I love the most. Summer is also when one of my favorite flowers burst into bloom. Nothing says summer like tiger lilies.




I'm aware that these particular tiger lilies—aka ditch lilies because they often grow roadside—are considered common and invasive by professional gardeners.
 
Yet ditch lilies remind me of the carefree, childhood summers. Except for October, I'm not a big fan of orange—but I can't begin to tell you how exquisite these tiger lilies look next to blue hydrangeas. Yes, they may be old-fashioned. But then again, so am I when it comes to the garden.

It's hard to find these exact species in garden catalogs—because so many "experts" turn up their noses at the lily's ditch water roots. The lilies grow wild along the ditch banks of many country roads throughout the United States.
 

Ditch lilies also remind me of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a place dear to my heart. I visited the Shore for the first time at the age of twenty-one. The summer I lived there getting to know the wonderful people and unique culture of the Shore was transformational. 

For me, it was an incredible place of fun, nature's beauty and firsts. It was here this city girl first went fishing; first went clamming in a mucky tidal marsh; first learned to eat crab—a labor-intensive endeavor; and fell in love with life attuned to the rhythmic cycle of the moon and tide.

Even after all these years—I’m not going to tell you how many—I revisit this splendid and unique Tidewater destination as often as I can with my family. In the Eastern Shore sanctuary of life, there is truly peace, tranquility and safe harbor.

After writing six romantic suspense books, a contemporary Hawaiian romance and four historical novellas, my Shore friends asked me why I didn't write a book about them. So I did—Coast Guard Courtship, which evolved into a series of seaside romances with Love Inspired, set in a fictional fishing village on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. My fifth ESVA romance, The Bachelor's Unexpected Family releases in August. 


I always find it bittersweet to return home after a visit to the Eastern Shore. But one summer day a few years ago, a beloved Shore friend/father figure dug up a patch of wild ditch lilies so I could take something of the Shore's essence home with me.
 

And now every summer when they bloom, I can imagine that once again I'm there on the Shore with cherished friends and the hint of the sea on the breeze. 

Here's to beautiful flowers—like the wonderful people who grace our lives. Wishing you dragonfly days and firefly evenings. Have a wonderful summer and happy reading.


What's your favorite thing about summer?
   

21 comments:

  1. Lisa, love your summer story. For me, my favorite part of summer is swimming in the pools with my granddaughters. A great way to pass a warm summer day. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. I remember those pool days when my girls were younger. So much fun.

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  2. I love ditch lilies too! And other wildflowers that color our roadways. What a lovely post, Lisa, and your book cover is awesome. I want to go there! I love so many things about summer: the beach, the fresh produce, relaxing with a good book and a glass of iced tea. Ahhhh.

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    1. Peach ice cream, the beach or the mountains . . . so much to enjoy. :)

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  3. Lisa, thanks for sharing your wonderful memories.

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  4. Ooooooh! Tiger lilies are gorgeous! Especially, like you say, in a bouquet with blue flowers. I had no idea they were considered ditch lilies! The fact they can survive in roadside ditches actually makes me like them even more. I'll never look at them the same way again now. Our area of Ontario has a lot of bright pink cherry blossom trees. I spend months looking forward to them blooming every year. But people here are grumbling about them, because right now we have crushed pink flower pedals all over the car, driveway, floors, and even stuck to the front of the house!

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    1. We get those but in the spring here in NC. One year when my girls were in elementary school we managed to get to D.C. when the famous cherry blossoms were in bloom around the Mall. It was breathtaking.

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  5. I didn't know anything about ditch lilies. Very cool. As a newbie at gardening, I'm trying to pick varieties for our yard. All I know is I love blue flowers. ;)

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    1. My favorite true blue are blue hydrangeas. No yard can have too many. I like gardening and designing gardens. In fact, my debut suspense novel had a heroine who was a Southern landscape designer. Wishing you good, gentle summer rain on your plants.

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  6. Beautiful flowers. My granddaughter once wondered why people call some flowers weeds. She thought they were pretty.

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    1. Another weed flower favorite of mine is Queen Anne's lace. :)

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  7. Growing up as a country kid, summer always meant extra work. Besides, I loved school, so I hated to see it end every year. As a mom with children still in the home, I did enjoy having the kids with me every day. As for the flowers, I love them. But then, orange is my favorite color! LOL

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    1. I have a few more summers with me children more or less. After that, they will be graduating from college and who knows where they will land.

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  8. Lisa, thanks for talking about ditch lilies. I remember as a child walking with Mom along the ditches to gather wild asparagus. And would you believe I learned to swim in a ditch? (No swimming pools where I grew up.) It was a calmer life, spending time with my mom and sister on a long walk as we picked and prepared our dinner that night. I hope more parents will take the time to do those things with their kids today. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Our childhood summers were a lot different from what summers are today. It's those little things we did that really are remembered the most.

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  9. You had me at Ditch Lilies. And, I love seaside romances. I'm reading High Tide at Noon by Elisabeth Ogilvie right now. I definitely need to look into yours.

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    1. Hope you will enjoy the Eastern Shore seaside romances. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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  10. What a sweet story. I grew up at the beach in Florida and still love the atmosphere that is like no other. My favorite flowers are gladiolus, probably because my mom taught me to plant them when we lived there.

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  11. Thanks for stopping by, Angel. :)

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  12. Great post, Lisa. I love shore stories and these sound so good!

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