Saturday, February 11, 2006

a thousand daffodils

Well, perhaps only 900 or so. The daffodils have started their bloom early this year, in a burst of false springtime that is fooling us all into believing that the winter is over and the voice of the turtle is about to be heard in our land.
I've lived here long enough to know that, come March or April, we may get snow. We will certainly get hail as soon as the tender blossoms of the cherries open wide and the hapless bees come buzzing. And the ground, now starting to warm up in a rush of hope, will get cold again.
Today, I don't care. I can stare out the window and pretend it is May, delighting in the return of the daffs. A couple autumns ago my eldest son gave me a gift certificate to a massive online corporate place, cautioning me not to spend all the money on books. The dear child has reminded me of my father since the day he was born: a true hearted, deliberate, sweet guy, mystified by the more whimsical amongst us.
Searching through the corporate site I came across the house-and-garden section, and then the plants, bulbs, and seeds.
There was a special on a huge number of daffodil and narcissus bulbs. I could not resist, and navigated the strange click and order world, and waited.
And waited, and waited, and waited. Finally I searched for the status of the shipment--by now it was getting late in the season for planting, though the ground never freezes here, allowing a bit of leeway.
The shipping place noted the bulbs had been delivered and signed for.
Then began my extensive correspondence with Jeff the agriculture commissioner. He'd caught the shipment as it entered the county, and found it was without all the official certification that let everyone know it wasn't carrying the floral equivalent of birdflu. He assured me that he hadn't yet destroyed the bulbs, pending communication from the place of origin.
As week after week passed, I contacted the corporate site, the nursery, and dear Jeff. I sent Jeff quotes from Wordsworth. I sent him pleas to keep the bulbs cool. He assured me they were fine, and chillingly added "I have not yet sent them to the landfill".
I woke those days with visions of palely sprouting bulbs, yearning for sunlight, wishing to bloom and be free.
The nursery meanwhile sent on another shipment of bulbs, with apologies, and the corporate place issued a refund, which made me cry, because it was apparent they were not going to come up with certificates and health statements, and surely the bulbs were doomed.
And then, perhaps persuaded by the Wordsworth, Jeff released the hundreds of bulbs to my loving care, so that I could plant them (and their twins) along the streets of this little town.
This year is their second year of bloom, allaying my fears that they were placed in soil too harsh for them, or too wet. I planted another huge batch this autumn, and then had a friend come laden with a bushel more--not of daffodils, but of homeless, yearning tulips and squills, and hyacinths--cast off by their retailer, with the hope that they might brighten some rural roads. They got tucked in in due time--late, but with a chance to bloom.
And perhaps a lot of things in life, as I think of it, may come at not quite the right moment--but still with a glimmer of hope and a chance to bloom.
Meanwhile, in this almost springtime moment, an old friend returned from Europe the other night. He rushed into the bookstore looking distressed, noting my daughter at the computer, my partner at the desk...
I was sitting with Champ towards the back, reading.
"Oh, I am so glad to see you!" he cried, and embraced me. Now, I've known this guy for perhaps 30 years, through three of his marriages, through the births of his sons, through his first novel and his attempts at poetry, but ours has never been a very physical friendship. And here he was, weeping with joy. I was a bit--startled. He said he'd had a vivid dream of my death, while he was in Switzerland, and he was so very saddened by it. He talked of all the sorrow he'd felt, for my family, for the dogs--but, said he, "the thing that made me cry the most was thinking of your flowers and gardens--who would take care of them now?"
My partner laughed. "Look, Jarvenpa, said he (using of course my own less florid name)--you can be a saint now without being dead yet!"
Well, I assured my friend I was glad his dream wasn't a true one--at least not yet--and that the flowers should be safe through another springtime.
And privately, I'm glad saints on the whole are very difficult people, really.

9 Comments:

Blogger marlyat2 said...

Squill: my yard turns blue with the stuff! I, too, have a cottage garden...

You could post some pictures of those flowers. Could.

4:35 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

yes, if I had a digital camera or a way to scan photos...alas, I do not..
I do love blue squills. The bright Siberian squills like a colder climate than we have (probably that's what you have?) but last a season or two; the Spanish squills love it here, and make huge drifts of blue and pink and white.

5:09 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Siberian squill: glorious color. There are a few good things about being marooned on an ice floe. Snow drops blooming in late snow is a marvelous-looking sight.

You'll have to ask a bookstore and flower and photography fan, I suppose.

10:05 AM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Shirin said...

Your post made me long for gardening Jarvenpa. We didn’t have the money to buy a place with a garden and so now I have to make-do with only my potted plants (of which there are so many around the flat at the moment that my husband has banned me from bringing any more in). My dream is to get a home with a garden one day that I can plant all sorts of flowers and vegetables in.

12:35 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Marly--yes, snowdrops are lovely (they don't grow here either, nor do lilies of the valley, another favorite of mine)
Shirin--tell your husband plants are absolutely required for your physical and mental health. I hope you someday get your wish and have a place with large gardens.

3:38 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

As this part of the country is being hit by a snowstorm, it was wonderfully refreshing to read this post! I love the fact that you planted so many flowers and shared the beauty of them with others. They always have a way of making us feel better, don't they?

9:53 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger David said...

Interesting that you mention daffodils. Here in Indiana, the green leaves of daffodils just began to peak from beneath the ground a couple of weeks ago. However, now that the unnatural warmth of this year's January has passed into a rather cold February, I'm a bit concerned that the plants will be frostbitten.

I hope the people of your town appreciate your gifts of flowers along their roads!

11:26 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Yes, flowers always make me feel better (I tell my partner I save money on psychiatrists by gardening. After many years he finally believes me.)
I hope those of you in the snow are keeping warm.
The nice thing about daffodils is that they are pretty hardy, so, David, I think the ones starting to come up in your area will still be fine. Here we often have heavy rains again after the daffs are up, and they get beaten down into the puddles, but still manage to look cheerful.

12:30 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger a dracul said...

they can be too driven, saints, you probably are though, but then again you might not be, it's a lot safer for me to stay cynical, the dream of death from the one who crossed water, a great change is coming to your life, now that one was easy. you are definitely something though, i think ill slow down on the reading, otherwise i'll just make myself sick in the night and then it will take a while before i can digest anything more, i hate growing up, if i were a kid i'd just keep going until i felt sick.

2:39 AM, April 15, 2006  

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