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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coveting my Neighbor's Yucca

Yesterday I saw it as I drove by. I returned this morning, camera in hand. I stood at the base of a neighbor’s Yucca plant—all ten feet of it—mesmerized. The plant was at least six feet tall—a porcupine-like explosion of sharp needles. On top was a four-foot headdress of sparkling white flowers that reminded me of orchids.

 
It’s bright and early on a Tuesday morning so let’s pretend we’re at school—I’ll be the teacher—you sit over there—and we’ll have a surprise pop quiz! Please choose from the answers below:

How many varieties of the Yucca plant are there?
a)      14
b)      40-50
c)      60-70
d)      I hate multiple choice quizzes and I don’t want to play this game anymore.
If you guessed (b) you were correct! That’s a lot of variety, I say. I had no idea there were so many.
I’m no expert on Yucca plants. The first one I ever noticed was at my grandparents’ house when I was a child. But it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I really appreciated Yuccas. Our next door neighbor had a big Yucca in his front yard. Most of the year I barely detected it. Its spiky, hunched-over form wasn’t exactly welcoming. But twice a year, out of nowhere, the Yucca grew a luminous crown of bright white blossoms, glittering in the sun. Once I started looking for Yuccas, I realized there were a number of types. Each was different but they all had the curious combination of sharp, ominous-looking leaves and soft, dazzling white blossoms.

We’ve been advised not to covet our neighbors’ goods. Rest assured I have no plans to sneak over there and wrestle that spiky plant out of the ground and drag it back here and replant it in my yard and pretend it grew there all by itself. I’m not really coveting my neighbor’s Yucca. But I think it’s okay if I look but don’t touch.

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