“They only bloom at night,” she said. “And only once.”

I had never heard of Moon Flowers, which is not surprising considering the things I don’t know about flowers.

“I think tonight could be the night. I tried once before but I forgot and missed it.”

The fact that Suzie and I were visiting her sister on the only day of the year the Moon Flower would bloom and that I had my new camera with me set me on a mission. I’m prone to that, finding missions. This one was a good one – using all of my limited skill to capture the fleeting nocturnal beauty.

That night the flowers did bloom.

My first attempt failed, and my second and third. I finally got a starkly shadowed, glaringly bright shot with the flash but it didn’t begin to capture the mysterious quality of the white flowers in the darkness. Everyone quickly grew tired of my project and went back inside. The mosquitos helped.

Later that night, unable to sleep, I came up with a solution. Using a tripod, a flash muted with Kleenex and the distant light of two cell phone flashlights, along with some patient help from my indulgent wife, I got this shot.

The next morning they were still blooming due to the clouds and shade of the tall surrounding forest, though slightly wilted. I took morning pictures but I still prefer the night shot.

Night is where these flowers live. I learned that they are pollinated by night moths which are attracted to the white color. Without the darkness and moths they couldn’t survive.

It all happens while we sleep, unaware. It is one of thousands of symbiotic relationships that softly hide in nature. Not obvious but there for the seeing.

You can deny them or ignore them but, sooner or later, their beauty will surprise you. Mysteries lying in wait for the curious. Puzzles hiding from game players. Riddles for the riddlers.

Last night I watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell with Asperger’s syndrome. Before his father was killed in 9/11 he started a game of riddles and exploration for Oskar to solve. Never stop looking was their motto. Finding his father’s clues was the journey.

There are two ways to look at nature:
Either an uncountable series of unbelievable coincidences . . .
Or an endless love letter from a Father to his ever curious children.