I have always loved daffodils. They are such a pure yellow and have a delicate, smooth skin. The day they open they are the prettiest they will ever be yet their beauty lasts over a week even after they're picked. Pure and unsullied by wind or age. Not a bug on them, not a speck of dirt. They emerge from the earth with the crispness of springtime and new beginnings.
I think I planted my first one when I was in elementary school. I remember distinctly that Daddy told me I could choose the spot where we planted them. I chose the parkway in front of the house and they showed up dependably every spring into my adulthood. He would point them out when I went to visit the house I grew up in. "They" eventually became "one" dependable flower each year until it, too, died around the time I became a mother, I became too busy with car seats to notice the curb when we arrived and departed. Life gets busy and time to appreciate nature's bounty is the first luxury to go.
When I was in college I picked one out of a campus flowerbed and took it back to the dorm. Back in my room I put it in the closest thing I had to a vase--an empty coke bottle. And for years that was one of my favorite images--the simplicity of such beauty. A daffodil doesn't need anything fancy to show off its beauty. It is enough on its own.
It was around this time that I resolved to memorize William Wordsworth's ode to the daffodil. I could recite it at the drop of a hat and often did, much to the annoyance of my family.
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed--and gazed--but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
I've always planted them at every house we've had with scant success. I've planted them three times out here in East Texas but didn't have much luck. They would only bloom one year, if at all.
I got horribly discouraged by this and started noticing every wild daffodil and jonquil growing wild on the roadside. I became a touch bitter that they can grow so readily with absolutely nothing to encourage them and so many things--drought, poor soil and gas fumes-- to discourage them. What did the roadside have that my sunny spot under the pine trees didn't have?
This year I tried a new tactic. Abandoning God's soil, I bought a huge bag of bulbs and planted them in just about every raised bed and pot I have.
And they bloomed. They went crazy blooming. Every single bulb has produced a flower, sometimes two. And they are gorgeous.
I picked a bunch and filled every vase I have and took them to church. I picked more for our house. Without a vase I filled a water pitcher with them. I gave a whole bouquet to my neighbor. And I still had blooms.
I had more than my single bulb in an empty Coke bottle. I started feeling a little selfish.And I don't know what to do with the bounty. What do you do when you have more than you need? More than enough?
I started taking pictures of them. I spent more time than you could imagine just trying to get a picture that would do them justice. And even with the best arrangement and lighting and an expensive camera, I still didn't think the photos really capture the beauty. Maybe it's like the Grand Canyon: you just have to see it in person.
Daffodils are the first blooming flower of the new season. They are the flower of hope. They are more than we deserve, more than we need. More than enough. They are God's grace. God is generous that way.