Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Sweet Surprise

A couple of springs ago, I bought a small stevia plant.
It was already a little gangly in the store; 
but its leaves were soft and green, 
and I had read that it was a good sugar substitute. 
And true, the tiny leaf I had picked off in the store tasted incredibly sweet.
So I brought the stevia home and planted it along the northwest side of my house,
about the only potentially sunny spot I could offer.

That summer the stevia hung on, but it didn't grow very thick.
Even so, every leaf tasted sugary sweet.
I liked it a lot, and one of my dogs who has an un-indulged sweet tooth
even wanted to chew on the plant leaves 
after I let him sniff a sprig I had broken off.

Autumn and winter came and went.
I assumed the stevia wouldn't overwinter, 
especially since the bee balm I had planted next to it hadn't survived.
But the stevia surprised me and returned this spring.
Still not thick and lush, but a plant with a very determined spirit it is.
In searching for sufficient sun, the central stalk grew and grew,
until it was too heavy to stand up on its own.
So it lay down across the stone edging and grew on, 
reaching more than four feet by summer's end. 

Then I went outside a day or two ago and was surprised to see
that the whole plant had flowered.

Tiny white flowers clustered at the ends of the narrow stalks.
The shape of the blossom reminds me of the tiny petals
on Queen Anne's Lace or Baby's Breath.
And so this ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan,
and that's a sweet surprise.

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