Our front walk is ringed in daylilies that we planted for color several years ago. The first year or two proceeded without incident, probably because the plants were spindly, small, and were getting established. Then last year arrived and we had lots of blooms puffing up and about to burst forth.
Then the mystery developed. Just before they would open, the blooms would be picked clean off. Only long thin reedy stems left for evidence.
“Something is picking the blooms right before they open,” my husband informed me.
I attached my detective hat and four seconds later arrived with the solution. The boys. I knew they sometimes absently picked leaves off plants; maybe they were picking the blooms.
I interrupted their soccer game in the cul-de-sac to interrogate them, but they all denied being an accomplice to such a flower picking deed.
I was stymied. Who was picking my daylilies before any color could perk up our front yard?
“It’s the deer,” my husband said. “Notice the stems have been chomped off.”
I studied the evidence. He was right. The deer were filling up on our nightly front yard dessert buffet. And obviously they were not prone to indigestion, because they returned for leftovers, time and again. Sometimes we had blooms, other times none.
Another year rolled around and the blooms began to set, then puff up. We got a few blooms, and then the deer returned for their edible flower salad buffet.
Early on I decided that I was not going to let the deer win. I began covering my daylily bed with an old sheet. A later variety began to bloom, so out came another sheet.
At first my husband, who wants our front yard to look like the cover of Better Homes and Garden, teased and called us the Clampetts of the neighborhood with my hillbilly sheets. He wanted me settling the sheets around the plants under the cover of darkness, with only the garage lights as my assistant. He didn’t want attention drawn to our tacky and unmatched landscaping cover.
He may have been laughing over my mismatched sheets and teasing me about my tactics, but success was mine.
Soon we had blooms and our neighbors didn’t. I was smiling and he was changing his tune to a rosier one.
“I guess those hillbilly sheets are working,” he confessed.
And then one night I forgot. Fifty blooms eaten. Fifty blooms digesting in some deer’s stomach.
My husband, who is always the first one up in our house, came into the bedroom to wake me and inform me that we had no daylily blooms. “You forgot the sheets,” he accused.
Needless to say, I had some cloudy notion of getting to busy on the phone and failing to cover and tuck in the flowerbed. I frowned. Those pesky deer had bested me.
Then I realized my opportunity that loomed like a wide-mouthed cavern. “So you agree that my idea is working?” I asked my husband.
“Yes, Theresa,” he admitted. “You are very clever.”
I smiled and felt like a preening cat.
“So can I start setting the sheets out before midnight?”
“Yes, Mrs. Clampett.”
“An hour before dark?”
“Yes Mrs. Clampett.”
“You’re pushing your luck. What if the Goggle Car comes by some evening to photograph our neighborhood?”
I stare at him, realize he is serious.
“I guess we would be known as the neighbors with un-matching bed sheets scattered across their yard?”
“Yes Mrs. Clampett.”
“Can I go back to sleep.”
“No, Mrs. Clampett.”
I lay in bed smiling. Then cursing the deer. Then smiling. The sheets were working. They were fooling the deer. A thin cotton fabric was enough to disguise the blooms and cause the deer to pass over our blooms in favor of another neighbor’s flowering snack.
But why was this a surprise? Anything can be covered and disguised. How often do we as humans try to cover and disguise our true selves through clothing, frantic activities, fake smiles and false hope when what we need is the only true change—God’s grace and forgiveness.
Just like the bed sheets cover the developing blooms from the deer, so God’s grace covers our sins, hiding them under his blanket of forgiveness. And underneath this blanket, his love, peace, joy, and righteousness takes root and begins to bloom, shooting up and through his forgiveness, beautifying us, and causing others to notice us in a different and more beautiful mode. Our old self is covered, forgotten, and the new us shines forth with dazzling joy and beauty.
I wade among the slender daylily leaves early that evening. An hour and 20 minutes before dark. Sheets in hand.
I pause and thank God for covering up my old self, for covering me with His grace and forgiveness when I shake my sheets in the air that night, watching them flutter down and atop the blooms. Protecting them. Saving them for another day.
During their rest they will regather strength and bloom again. They will sparkle with color in the early morning light.
So far the deer haven’t bested me again. But if this idea catches on with the neighbors, I may have to find some nicer sheets. Right now I have a twin vanilla colored sheet and a full-sized very pale blue and red-stripped sheet that has faded to pale pastels. No coordination or points for beauty between them. But they do work. And in the morning, the blooms dazzle the beholders.