“And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.”
— William Wordsworth
I saw the first daffodils of the season last week. I was driving past an old abandoned barn when my eye caught a blur of color amongst a field of dead brown weeds. As flakes of snow swirled around in the crisp February air, those headstrong blooms stood tall and proud as they raised their butter yellow faces to the morning sun.
Unable to resist, I pulled over and walked into the field. I brought one of the flowers to my nose and inhaled deeply. I smiled. "Hi, Mom," I said.
My mother loved daffodils. They were her favorite flower. She called them Daffy Doodles. She said no other bloom can boast that same shade of yellow or one-of-a-kind aroma. For me, they signal the promise of spring and hold the key to my childhood. The mere sight of them never fails to bring back a flood of memories that revolve around my mom.
I was a Navy brat growing up, so we moved a lot. But Mom's daffodils always went with her. After the moving vans pulled out of the driveway, my mother would dig up all her beloved Daffy Doodle bulbs. Then she put them to bed in a burlap sack filled with loose soil, where they slept soundly until she transplanted them at our new home.
She told me one of the reasons why she loved daffodils is because they're so stubborn. No matter where we were living, those bulbs came back year after year. In Maine and Connecticut, they pushed their determined heads through blankets of snow and shivered in the cold for a few short-lived weeks. In the warmer locales of Virginia and the Carolinas, they stretched their toes deep into the Southern earth and stayed a while, soaking up the sun and balmy breezes.
One of her favorite pastimes was finding daffodils growing in the wild. Every March she would look for them in her travels and mark where new ones had sprouted up. Then she would come back in the fall to dig them up and add them to her burgeoning collection.
I asked her why she didn't pick the flowers and dig up the bulbs as soon as she found them.
"You have to let the flower die so that all the food goes back into the bulb. If you don't, they won't come back."
I didn't understand what she meant at the time, but I've never forgotten it. To this day, I never cut back plants or dig up tubers and bulbs until the flowers and leaves have died. It was one of the many things I learned from her while helping in the garden, and not just about plants. My mother wasn't an educated woman. In fact, she never graduated high school. But she was a wealth of wisdom when it came to family and faith. And Daffy Doodles.
These days, it's hard to find daffodil bulbs in stores. I asked a woman at a local nursery why. She said, "Daffodils are so easy to grow, you don't need to buy them. If you plant a few bulbs, they'll fill up a flower bed by the next season."
Like Mom said, they're stubborn that way.
What is your favorite flower? Why? Drop me a line in the comment section below!
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