On the Town

How friendships and a rare flower bloomed at a summer party in Old Town Bluffton

Babbie Guscio
Babbie Guscio

On a recent night, we had a marvelous treat.

Earlier in the day, we received an invitation to a very special party that was not just any old get-together. Our next door neighbors — Jan and Chuck Robinson — were celebrating the coming out soiree of nine very special lovelies.

The night blooming cereus is an amazing plant. This beauty, a member of the cactus family, is also called "Honolulu Queen;" "Christ in the Manger;", and "Princess of the Night." If you have ever seen one, you know why it's been given these divine nicknames.

Jan and Chuck had warned us that if we wanted to be at the debut of the plant's blooms, we had to be present at the very moment they opened for it would only be for a brief moment.

Also, the debut only happens in the evening and the appointed hour is never known in advance.

With all of this in mind, we fluffed ourselves up and as soon as the sun was sinking in the West, we headed next door.

The plant was outside on the side porch and was about 8 feet tall. So with drinks in hand, we settled in for the "watch". There were nine large unopened buds that looked promising in the evening light. The couple's adorable dog joined us as we chatted and waited. I have heard of many parties that people have hosted for just such an event so I was thrilled to be there.

Every once in a while, there was a small fluttering among the plant as if it knew a great thrill was coming soon.

An owl was softly hooting in the backyard as if it were the village crier trying to tell us be on alert.

Our eyes were fixed on each bud as slowly, so slowly, they began to open. The blossoms were gigantic — about 8 or 9 inches across — a creamy white and they unfurled like a flag. We looked inside each one of the perfectly formed blooms and what a gorgeous sight we were blessed to see.

The lovely perfume they gave off was wonderful, rather like the scent of magnolias and lily of the valley.

The whole affair was so special and so ethereal — I think that might be why Mother Nature only does this once a year.

Chuck gave me a blossom to take home but we knew its time would be short. I awoke the next morning with the great hope that my beautiful swan — like a souvenir — was as I had first seen it. But alas, that was not to be. It reminded me of the rose in that wonderful book " The Little Prince."

So the moral of this little snippet is that if you are invited to a coming out party for a night blooming cereus, don't tarry. Take something to nibble and tipple and plan to be there awhile. Better yet, get a plant of your own and throw your own bash.

Patriotic Bluffton

I was in a store the other day buying some Fourth of July decorations. I got to the counter to pay and the sales lady told me that I was lucky they had anything left to buy. She said she did not realize that the Fourth holiday was such a big deal in Bluffton.

I was taken aback and almost dropped my package.

I told her that we all love America and then I invited her to the Fourth of July parade in Old Town. She declined, saying that she would be right there in the store that day and seemed to have no regret about that.

So I stood up very straight looked over my glasses and said "that is a sad state of affairs, madame!"