Every night of summer, there was a moon lily. As the light faded, the green vine strangling the balistrade in our back yard released a handful of delicate white trumpets that unfolded in slow motion.
Moon lilies are like the running sequences in Chariots of Fire and the Six Million Dollar Man. They ought to have a soundtrack.
Like this: Chhh-Chhh-Chhh-Chhh.
They are unstoppable.
My father and I would oversee their opening, sometimes with a stopwatch. Some took only minutes to expand fully - thudding open like umbrellas - while others took an entire evening just to bust open the green carapace, the egg that encased them.
'It's important to be observant,' my father would say. He'd cradle his beer (sometimes his fourth already) with one hand while with the other he'd pluck off the sticky, bruised remnants of the previous night's flowers. We watched in silence - or perhaps marvelled over the swiftness of a particular moon lily's escape - while my mother set the dinner table.
He and I would remain there, timing the moon as it began its arc. Later, at dinner, I'd watch the way my father spread the napkin across his lap with flamboyant precision, while my mother's lay beside her plate, clean and folded and flat as a sealed envelope.