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The Iris Lady

In keeping ourselves and others safe, some of us have grown tired of staying-in-place. Like any good soldier knows, it takes effort to keep on keeping on.

My ten-year-old granddaughter finally faced the reality of no swim classes and no friend-time this spring. Hard and sad.

One of my elderly friends lives in an apartment complex where she must wear a mask if she goes out into the hallway. Exhausting. Hard. Lonely.

Strange way to fight a virus, right?

Also, this week my 17-year-old granddaughter needed me to put something in the mail for her. That meant going into our small town, wearing a mask, creating a package, posting it. To tell the truth, I didn’t feel much like doing any of it. I had things to do in the yard. But my grandmother-part has a pretty commanding voice.


Our postmaster knew I was coming, because I’d called earlier and asked a couple of questions.

He’d said, “No problem.”

So, he was not surprised when I came through the door and teased about my being masked. He was focused on a lady who had an abundance of bulky envelopes in a wagon. Hard to miss a wagon full of mail in the waiting area.

I was next, so I stood and tuned in to their conversation. They were halfway through the transaction. People call that eavesdropping, I suppose. Well, it’s not like I’ve ever seen this before, not on this side of the counter.

I listened and learned her packages were full of iris bulbs. Wow! Irises!

Within five minutes, I found out she grows and sells irises, one of my favorite flowers since I was a little girl.

Turns out the The Wall Street Journal called her about her rare irises. The ad blew up!

“I’ve had more requests than ever before. This spring, I’m digging and packaging irises. So many, my daughter came and helped me.”

I probably looked stunned. An ad in the Wall Street Journal. And they approached her. Serendipity.

Standing behind her, I asked if she had a business card. She did. We introduced ourselves.

Cynthia left and the postmaster commented, “She had more packages than that yesterday.”


I waited two days before I called her. The rain may have been a factor.

When I asked if I could visit her, Cynthia said, “How about noon? Why don’t you come about noon?”

“I’ll be there,” I said.

Now, she and I both knew that irises have done their thing and there’ll be no more blooms in late May. Nothing left to see but green knives and spears coming up out of the ground.

I don’t know if it’s me having been cooped up because I have the coronavirus crazies or if I just wanted an adventure, but it was a perfect fit for me.

I wiggled my way around mountains until I found her county road (where I’d never been before), and I made a curve and saw the white picket fence she’d mentioned.

Oh my.

Rows and rows of raised iris beds. I recognized them because of the foliage—the green knives, pointing upward.

Here’s the short version of this story. (I meant to stay 30 minutes, but we spoke the same language. Not easy to find people who know flower-language and find such joy in what they are doing.)

Clearly, Cynthia loves her irises, whether they are in bloom or not. We walked some of the grounds. She could name most of the colors of the irises resting in each bed.

At some point, she called her love for what she does “an addiction.” I understood. Many of us feel that way about yard work, writing, reading, fishing, movies, a hobby, something.

We watched as her faithful dog barked and circled a black snake. Once we'd discovered the color of the snake, the two of us ignored it. Color is important whether you are talking irises or snakes.

We continued, meandering and talking. Now and then, she bent and pulled blades of grass.

We eventually ended up, once again, back on her porch.

In the spring, when her irises look like a Crayola package, I’ll go back. I want to see the show of many colors.

Now, how did this even happen? I’m calling it a God-incident.

There’s no way I could have coordinated this incident: my granddaughter needing a package sent, The Wall Street Journal calling this woman about her rare irises, my interest in marketing and irises, our meeting at a little post office where I'd talked myself into going that day at that time. It was a God-thing.

It helped me get through another covid-19 week.

Dear Cynthia, you have a beautiful attitude. I thank you for showing me your masterpiece, and I look forward to seeing the stunning show that’ll happen next spring at your place.

Thanks be to God for connecting all the dots, so I could “bump into” the iris lady.


Pat Durmon

P.S. Cynthia's Iris Garden is not accepting any more orders this year, but you can see her offerings in bloom at her Facebook page, at

Photo of irises taken by Cynthia Gallegos, Norfork, Arkansas, as shown on her Facebook page.

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