The Corner of Hope: A Monster Story of Amaryllis - The Dickinson Press

The Corner of Hope: A Monster Story of Amaryllis – The Dickinson Press

I’m an amaryllis whisperer.

You’ve probably seen the movie “The Horse Whisperer,” in which Robert Redford trained horses by listening and observing them to anticipate their needs. Or you watched the television series “Dog Whisperer” with trainer Cesar Millan.

Millan guided the dogs away from bad behavior with talk therapy and a command that sounded like “Chsssst.” I think the dogs learned to be good and listen because they had never heard a command like that. The sound was like a toy squeaking due to a leak. The dogs may have thought Cesar had made a leak and was about to deflate.

Both whisperers have achieved amazing results with their non-traditional training methods. Even though we don’t have a horse in the family, we have always had a dog or two. Everyone needs better training.

Duly impressed, we watched every episode of “Dog Whisperer.” We bought the book which was a companion volume to the show. We have become pack leaders. None of us could make the “Chsssst” sound. This was probably our failure.

None of our dogs have learned even basic commands. They arrive to the sound of a plate of croquettes being placed on the floor. They stop barking if we pick them up. They skid if we carry around a piece of cheese or chicken.

The dog training book, after an epic failure, was delivered to the library’s Twice Sold Tales bookstore. There were several other copies of the book there. I suspect no one else in southwestern North Dakota can make that “Chsssst” sound.

But amaryllis. That’s where I excel.

For years I have bought amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis are plug and play plants for casual gardeners. Just add water and let them go. An amaryllis bulb sprouts as quickly as Audrey’s thing in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

In due time, the giant buds open. The flowers are the size of a salad plate. Noteworthy. After flowering, the bulbs put out some leaves. They then need to hibernate and sometimes bloom again. In theory, anyway.

Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of non-reblooming amaryllis. I pamper them diligently over the winter and gently replant them each spring. But not last winter.

Last fall I threw all ten bulbs into an empty jar, put them under the ironing board in the laundry room, and told them they needed to get into shape.

This spring seven of the ten bulbs had buds sprouting when I brought them out of the basement. Tough love, honey.

And now I have a kitchen table full of amaryllis in bloom. With 22 inch flower stems. At last count, there were 31 flowers open, with more on the way. I’m a little afraid to give them fertilizer.

I think I heard one whisper, “Feed me!” the other night.

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