Last Tuesday I had farewell dinner with two friends who’ve been helping me through this long hot summer. I’ve talked about Patrice here more than a few times so you may already know that we’ve been close friends for about ten years. Lisa is a new friend for me, but based on the number of times she came to my rescue this summer, you wouldn’t know we only met last December.
During our yummy dinner at West Egg Cafe, Patrice pulled out her iPhone and began to show me shots of a flowering cactus that she had photographed the night before. She said this special plant only blooms at night and that the flowers only open once in their lifetime. Can you imagine a life that short? She invited me over to see it saying that one of the two remaining buds was likely to bloom and she wanted me to snap a few photos as it opened. So I did.
We arrived at her house about 8:30 and the bloom looked pretty tightly closed to me. Because it opens at night, we felt that it might open faster if we kept the outside lights off.
While that seemed to be exactly what the plant needed, it left me shooting in the dark. My Canon G11 shoots well in low light, but the images were still too grainy to make me happy. We filed inside giving it a chance to be alone in the dark and went back out later with flashlights as it began to open adding a bit of controlled light to the photographs. I think think the flashlight approach worked well. It was more dramatic in the dark.
Here’s what I looked like trying to shoot while holding the light. Both Patrice and Lisa offered to help, but I got territorial and wanted to do it myself. Patrice snapped a few photos of me while I was working to get the look I wanted and then jokingly revealed that she thought she had a hand in my having been in Atlanta so long after I was originally scheduled to go home to Cornwall.
It seems that back in April not long after I had arrived, Patrice was moving her big cactus outside to enjoy the warm weather and found herself wishing that I could be here long enough to photograph the flowers when they opened. The flowers on this cactus bloom in June or July so with a return date towards the end of May, there was no way I was going to see it. She didn’t even mention it to me until Tuesday and I had no idea what to expect.
Calling something so special a flowering cactus seems a bit bland for such a lovely flower with a too short life span. Gardening types would know it by its proper names such as Night Blooming Cereus or Queen of the Night.
I have to admit that it was definitely worth seeing and I while I didn’t mind leaving after midnight, the next time I come for a visit I’m going to have to ask Patrice to be careful what she wishes for.