In that small lake of mine a million-million flecks of life are stirring as energetically as are the creatures that live in the free space about the water. And countless plants, and fish, and insects; and to tell fully of all of these would require a dozen books and an infinity of time. Yet I must try, if only in brief, to write of all these things, or the story of this lake would remain incomplete.
Of all the living things that abound in the water the lilies are the most striking, and the first of the flowers in spring, summer and autumn to be seen by a visitor; and they are beautiful. In some places they grow in small clusters, in others they cover the water with a vast, green-shiny matting of great leaves from amongst which the cups of the perfect blooms emerge during summer.*
There are two varieties of these plants on my lake, yellow and the white, each distinct not only because of its colour, but also because of its shape. The yellow lily reflects the colour of pure butter in each of its three rounded petals and in its round, stubby heart. The white lily has more leaves and a smaller heart, which, like the entire bloom if its relative, is also golden yellow.
The plants root deep in the bud and because it is necessary for the leaves and blooms to breathe free air, sinuous stems, long and flexible, emerge from the root tubers and drift upwards to the surface before unfurling the dark green leaves that always float on top of the water, even should its level climb or drop.
This is because of the flexible stem, designed carefully for just this purpose, which, during low-water time in midsummer, trails loosely like some hang of submerged rope, only to straighten when fresh rains raise the level of the lake. Thus we find more evidence of Creation’s careful planning. If the stem of these lilies were rigid, such as are the stems of land plants, low water would find the leaves and flowers suspended above the fluid with which they must always be in contact if they are to survive.
Beautiful they are, but they have been designed for more than the aesthetic admiration of man. From as far south as the gulf of Mexico to as far north as the Gulf of St Lawrence, these lilies furnish life not only to birds and mammals, but also to the ponds in which they grow, for during the autumn their slippery stems and their giant leaves die and disintegrate in the water. slowly, these lilies, helped by other aquatic plants, build soil on the bottom of the lake from the broken-down remains of their stems, leaves and flowers, and more slowly yet, they build up the soil until it protrudes above the water, and a new cycle of life begins in the wilderness.
“Where the Water Lilies Grow” (c) 1968 By R.D. Lawrence ISBN 9781896219523
Also available as an e-book.
*Slideshow photos: By Frans Jurgens. Lillies Water Colour (c) 2014 By Lise Papay Jurgens