A Henry Street story

When DJ was younger, he was interested in plants. On any given Saturday I would be out in the back yard, piddling in the dirt. He would come over and ask me about what I was doing. Pointing at a patch of green leaves in the yard, he would ask, "What’s this?" or "What kind of flower does it make?" He got pretty good at telling the weeds from the flowers.

Other times in the yard, he and DeShawn would run around wild, laughing, throwing, sword fighting, tearing things up and causing me headache.

One day late in autumn, I went outside to check on them. He and DeShawn starting telling me about the wild onions they had dug up. The onions were big but didn’t taste good they said. See, we got all these flowering wild onions in the yard come spring time. I had shown both DJ and DeShawn how to dig the little white bulbs up and eat them. But things weren’t making sense, it was the wrong time of year for wild onions.

When asked, they took me over to where they discovered the onions. The boys had identified the onions by the long slender leaves and no stalk. At the fence between our yards, a dozen or so large white bulb roots strew about the ground, bite marks and chunks out of every one. Some of the bulbs were as big as a plum, others were the size of walnuts. 

The panic rose in my chest. These weren’t onions! "No wonder they tasted bad," I said, "These aren’t onions! They are antique hurricane lilies!" The bigger bulbs were likely 80-100 years old. Both DJ and DeShawn eyes widen and their jaws dropped. They immediately started to feel bad for wrecking the flower bulbs. I couldn’t be mad, though. With a smile, I asked if they would like to eat some more. Both boys declined. 

Memento mori, DJ Bell

February 17, 2012