Stars of Bethlehem

In the patches of grass along sidewalks in my neighborhood, small, white Stars of Bethlehem are in full bloom, everywhere. They dot the lush green carpet like strands of Christmas lights twinkling in the sun.

Ornithogalum umbellatum, that is their proper name. They are the common form of Ornithogalum, considered by many gardeners, most perhaps, to be weeds, like their compatriots clover, violet and marigold. They are all particularly plentiful this year, buffeted by a wet and temperate early spring.

I noticed them Saturday morning , when I was out for a short walk, during that weekly window I once, briefly, kept sacrosanct for writing. The competition for this stolen fragment of time has always been fierce these last four years, and it is especially so now. My son will soon learn to drive; my daughter will follow right behind him. Our Saturday mornings together are numbered.

I want to hoard and savor them, to bottle the luxury of ordinary time, to sit on soft green grass, looking up at a cloudless blue sky.

So some Saturdays I will write; others I will not. It is as simple as that.

Saturday at the Greensward

Tonight, after evening chores but before climbing into bed, I leashed the dog, the one who never leaves my side, and circled the block. We walked under a tiny sliver of moon, as thin as the fingernail clippings from when my children were babies and we were afraid they’d scratch their tender faces so we trimmed and tidied obsessively at the first sign of any growth.

The median strips lining my path were dim and shadowy, with not a single flower in sight. I thought perhaps they’d been cut by mower blades, casualties of a splendid weekend for yard work, until I remembered that, like day lilies, Stars of Bethlehem close up on themselves at night to rest.

They will be back tomorrow, and perhaps the day after. Temporary and common and fleeting and beautiful.

Food | Week of April 11, 2016


  1. Temporary, common, fleeting, beautiful. That about says it all. So glad you chose the walk. And so glad, too, that you circled back here in your own good time.


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