The story of the Oxalis.

This is not the whole story. The majority of the story is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. This is only the latest chapter.

My mother has an Oxalis. It lives in a pot. If memory serves, the pot lives atop a stereo in the storm corner of the House on a Hill. The stereo plays its stories for the House on the Hill. Ballads and rocky stories. Long sad songs, dancing in the kitchen songs, and teenage acoustic love songs. The Oxalis soaks it all in, root to clover-leaf-tip. It turns up its leaves in protest at times. Turning a sea of dark cheeks to the House. Other days, the sun shines, the wood warms, the rainbows dance along the dust motes and the Oxalis unfurls a blossom. Then two. Then seven. This dance has been going on for decades now. Decades. Plural.

I vaguely recall the Oxalis before the House on the Hill. It resides in a foggy recollection of an indoor passage between dark wood and historic plaster. Although that may have been where the spider plant nested. For all of the spit-shined memories of that life, the Oxalis resides in the recesses. Years before that life, this life, my life, the Oxalis was. It was with my mother for decades prior. Now years ago, not a decade yet, she carefully, lovingly, removed a few of its tubers. A few pockets of life. A few layers of story. She packaged them up. Each in its own small vessel. A twine-handled gift bag, from a birthday or a shower, one carried on in my hand through the air to Texas. The other found its way to a quaint urban kitchen.

My chapter found its home on a mini-fridge in the living room. It inhaled, exhaled, and swelled within its confines. I went on the prowl. A hermit crab for a new shell – not for me, but for this. This life. This story. I found one. Just right. I brought it home only to discover it couldn’t breathe. Carefully. Ever so delicately, as delicately as you can with power tools, I drilled through the shell. It held. I drilled again. Still it held. A third and fourth time. The shell remained whole. The Oxalis moved in. It moved back to the mini-fridge. I waited.

Not once did it flash its upset blush, but neither did it share a blossoming beam of joy with the sun. Again it moved, and again. To a kitchen window sill, to a bathroom’s frosty light, to a guest bed’s bright view of the world it stayed green, but I wasn’t sure it knew how to dance. I wasn’t sure it cared what music was playing, which storms were coming, or knew that wood could warm in the rays.

And then it was too late. They’d found it. They moved in like an army. Soft, white as snow, and innocent as the Ice Queen. I tried to fight them off. I marched into battle each morning, but each night they would emerge with renewed forces. I coaxed the Oxalis to find its strength. It fought valiantly. It drank the elixirs. It sacrificed stalk after stalk in an attempt to save the rest. It withstood painful downpours and finally chemically burns until it could take no more. With a heavy heart weighted with loss and defeat, I set the scarred, empty soil, still in its shell, outside. I couldn’t stand to bury it just yet.

Spring came and went. Summer landed with an earth-vibrating heat, and the empty shell baked in the outdoor oven. It was the least of my worries. I scurried here and there, begging my seedlings to hang on. I arranged shelter for them in the garden. I collected empty pots full of lost causes on the front porch waiting for an afternoon to re-sow. To re-plant. To try again.

It was months later before the heat broke and I’d thought I’d found such an afternoon. I soaked the empty pots gathered on the porch in preparation. I gathered my seeds. I gathered my notes. I gathered myself. And I was called away. I was needed over here. That bed needed me there. Work needed me out of town. And again. And again.

And there it was. A little bent hiccup. A little elbow of green. I gasped. I showed DH. He grinned at me and nodded. The Oxalis was returning. Marching slowly, steadily, it was returning and this time, it knew just what to do.



6 comments on “The story of the Oxalis.

  1. Alice says:

    Oh, lovely! I loved Oxalis as a child because I thought they were named for me (Alice), although I did not care for the ox part. Alas, the progeny of my mother’s plant perished in a motor home window one cold, wintry day.

  2. I’ve always thought they were magic plants…I gave my last one away before we moved to Florida, but it was the only houseplant I could keep going with a housefull of animals and small children!
    Wonderful post.

  3. Shannon says:

    Very heart-warming story. I so enjoyed reading that.

    I had many of those plants, given by my late grandfather from “mother” plants of his own. I nurtured them all through my 20’s, but during a move from my last apartment (just before being wed), I’m guessing someone mistook them as abandoned and TOOK THEM ALL. Gone. Just like that. I was so very upset.

    I like to think that they’re still thriving in someone else’s care. I will always have my memories of when they came to me.

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