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The Mystery and Magic of the Yellow Mum Plant

November 17, 2016


The Mystery and Magic of the Yellow Mum Plant:


A Month–Not Just a Day–of Thanks, Week 3


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Are you ready for a Thanksgiving mystery?  Are you ready for a little autumnal magic?  Like so many people who want to stretch the season of outdoor flowers, I, toward the end of each of the past several or more summers, have purchased chrysanthemum plants to add some cheery notes to this time of year when days are growing shorter.  I am partial to the yellow mums; and this year, I carried home from Metro Market the most beautiful mum plant that I have ever nourished.  As Goldilocks would describe the plant, it was not too large nor too small:  it was just right.  Unlike some mum plants of the past and my two basil plants of this season, my perfect yellow mum plant withstood all of the strong winds and never fell over.


This hearty chrysanthemum touched my heart in another way:  my Leader Dog Willow and I walked home with this plant purchase on August 24–the second-month anniversary of the day Willow, my little Black Labrador Retriever, came home to Milwaukee with me from Leader Dog School (Rochester, Michigan).  These beautiful yellow mums were our celebration plant.  Since that August 24, Willow and I checked out the cheery budding blossoms each day as we passed the plant on our front porch while we began and/or ended a walk.


Then, two months later, on October 28, Friday of Halloween weekend, the perfect yellow mum disappeared!  On Saturday, the 29th of October, when I went to reach for the cheery and bright yellow blossoms, I felt only the extra plastic saucer (really a plastic bowl) in which the container had rested for eight weeks.  To my knowledge, there had been no wind during the previous night; nevertheless, I examined all areas of my porch, as well as the stairs and sidewalk area–just in case a gust of wind had somehow caught my favorite plant of the season and rolled it away.  No luck!  My purple sage plant was sitting there alone; on the other side of the bench were the two varieties of pink geraniums and one of the basil trees; but the anniversary chrysanthemum plant was missing.


Since the disappearance occurred on Halloween weekend, I did hope that someone was enjoying the gorgeous plant and had not destroyed it.  Our unusually warm weather of this autumn had kept the blossoms in perfect shape.


Still missing the plant after more than a week, I mentioned the plant’s disappearance to one of the maintenance workers at my large apartment complex.  Although he maintains the grounds of the complex, he said that he had not seen the mum, but would let me know if he did.


A few days later, on November 10 (last Thursday), despite some wind, I decided that I had to clear my porch of most of the dry autumn leaves.  As usual, my plan was to sweep all the leaves off the porch, down the stairs, down the sidewalk, and off to the west lawn.  When the four stairs were heavily covered with crispy leaves, I detected with my broom a large object on the lower stair.  “What in the world is this?” I wondered as I probed the base of the object which I had unknowingly covered with leaves.  I knew that the object had not been there when Willow and I had recently come up the stairs.  Examining the object more, I most happily realized that this leaf-covered object was my perfect yellow mum plant!


After I cleared away the leaves from this special plant, I was filled with gratitude to welcome home this still cheery yellow mum which, despite its absence of two weeks, was nearly in as good shape as when it disappeared.  Although we had no rain around that time, the plant really did not need water.  Someone had taken good care of my chrysanthemum.


I placed the container of the mum plant back on its little table; then, I moved the mum and purple sage into the cubbyhole area of my porch for safe keeping.  Eventually, I watered the mysterious mum which continues to thrive in these most unusually warm November days.


Last Friday morning, I called the office of my apartment complex and asked the manager if J. P. had found my mum plant.  The answer was:  “I wish I could take credit for finding your mum plant, but I did not find it.”  Of course, I did not think that anyone who knew me had found the plant and returned it because no one I know would have placed the plant on the stair where I could have tripped over the plant’s container.  Even though the mystery remains, Willow and I continue to enjoy the magical wonder of this perfect mum which is so special to us.


As I continue with this month of thanks, I am especially thankful for the return of my yellow “anniversary” mum and am thankful for my entire container garden which has brought me so much relaxation, peace, and happiness this summer and autumn.  Also, on this November 16, as I think of my treasured dad, who had his cerebral hemorrhage on this day in 1997 and who then lived only two additional weeks, I remember  and am ever thankful for his bountiful and beautiful gardens from which we all grew strength and nourishment, as well as respect and love of the land and gardening.  Still today, I appreciate and am thankful for my family’s tradition of good gardening through the generations.  From my grandparents’ gardens and grape arbor to my dad’s gardens, from my meager container gardens to my nephew’s bountiful garden this year–a good gardening tradition thrives without any mystery–with just the magic and wonder of nourishing plants and flowers.


In the comment section of this blog post, you are invited to leave a note about gardening or about something for which you are thankful today.


Wishing you a cheery day and a bountiful Thanksgiving,

Alice and Willow


November 16, 2016, Wednesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–so happy you got your mum back! Someone has a conscience. Even though we have a large vegetable garden, and several perennial beds, the herbs and flowers in pots near the house always give special joy. Now the vegetable garden is being put to bed for the winter with the chopped leaves from our lawn covering it, but we still have quite a few flowers blooming for this time of year–for which I’m very thankful. We ate the last of our tomatoes in a salad yesterday–now all that is left are some brussels sprouts and baby cabbages. All of us who garden are so lucky to have a hobby which rewards us daily.–Sue

    • Sue–I am so thankful to have a gardening comment from a “Master Gardener.” Also, I thank you for the suggestion of the Canadian author Louise Penny’s mystery series. On Tuesday night, I completed the reading of the first book in this series–STILL LIFE, by which I was intrigued. Since I usually only read holiday books between Thanksgiving and the New Year, I will look forward to reading more of Louise Penny’s series in 2017.

      Hoping you are enjoying this amazingly beautiful Wisconsin day–Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice.
    I believe that after your mums decided to go for a stroll, they unknowingly took a left, when they were supposed to take a right. Now, knowing mums as I do, it must have been a sunny day, and seeing how mums have a hankering for sunny days, they must have come across a plant pot full of either asters, or as yellow mums are partial to, the ever chatty white mums. I can picture them now, relaxing beside a collection of hay bails, pumpkins and corn stalks, reminiscing about the morning glory days of old when they were nothing more than a young packet of seeds.
    Now, as mums may normally tend to do, these yellow adventurers must have grown homesick, and as the sunlight grew dim, and bright, and dim, and bright again, after a week upon another, they finally made their way back to their home, your home.

    Mums the word, and a goat is smiling as he pictures these wonderfully sunny wonders safe in their place, with a plant pot full of smiles sprinkling out upon another sunny day just west of the lakes.
    May they bring you another smile or three, and I tip my hat to you once again for a splendid tale of poetic text.

    • Deon–What a superb footnote to my mystery! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful writing talent in a comment on my WORDWALK! All smiles here in Milwaukee today–Alice and Willow

  3. mfanyo permalink

    I’m so happy and thankful that your lovely yellow mum was returned to you! I know how much joy your plants give you. Perhaps that mum does have some special magic in it! Do you recall that the yellow mum looked like a halo around Willow’s head in one photo that I took in late September?
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–I should have mentioned that photo in my essay. Thanks for mentioning the photo of Willow and the mum in your comment. In a revised version of the essay, I may insert a description of the interesting photo which you took of my little Lab with the crown of mums.

      See you soon–A & W

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