For those subscribers to my blog who are experiencing the snow and chilling winds of winter, views of flowers might come as a welcome surprise. One of my cherished memories of my grade school years is walking home from the school, which stood across the road from our house. My route led down our driveway. My mother, who loved blossoms of all kinds, had planted spring bulbs along the graveled path that the 1957 pink two-door Bel Air Chevrolet followed to its parking spot. As the school year was drawing to a close, the sunny afternoons between the April showers found me striding past the profusion of hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips that my mother had crowded into a deep border. The petals nodding in the breeze invited me to slow my steps so as to pay closer attention.
|My Tulips Proclaiming the Return of Spring|
I bent close to the hyacinths to enjoy their perfume. Such heavenly scent! Closing my eyes and smiling, I caught the delicate fragrance of the tulips. Each kind of tulip possessed its own exquisite bouquet. I don’t expect anyone else to understand this, but I connected the tulip scents with marshmallow Easter egg candies.
To this day, I can see in clear detail my grade-school self standing among the flowers. I am wearing my gray zippered jacket and my blue stocking cap. A book is in my left hand. The daffodils and tulips have diverted me from my walk to the house; I stand among the blossoms. Later, in the hot summer months, this border beside the white board fence will be in dappled shade, but now, in the pastel spring, the leaves to be are merely buds, and the twigs and branches of the trees cast no deep shadows. What a pleasure it is to take the measure of the renewed world! By patiently burying bulbs in cold, blustery November, my mother had planted wonder and delight to flourish when a child’s soul most needed them after the winter months of lessons and tests.
At about the same time, my mother ran the incubator in the enclosed breezeway between the old smokehouse and our home. Chicks and ducklings hatched from the eggs she had patiently candled, turned, and warmed. One of her favorite games was to bring a newly hatched duckling to wake me up for school. I would gradually relinquish the dream world while listening to the peeping of a duckling that Mom was holding close to my ear.
As my mother had taught elementary school before raising a family, she felt a special affinity for teachers and students, and she always invited a few of the grade school teachers to lead their classes across the street to file through our breezeway while learning about incubators and new life fluffing itself among broken shells.
Although I have loved every period of my life, my grade school years occupy a special place in my estimation, and the flowers of the springtime are the hallmarks of my memory.
Wherever I have lived, I have planted bulbs. No matter how tiring it is to prepare the soil bed for the bulbs, to orient them in the right direction, and to cover them with soil that, by November, has begun to turn cool to the hand, I return to the job of planting bulbs. They are the promise of the days and the blooms to come. They are the symbols of my connection to the earth and my potential for surprise. They are the responsibility I have to the arts inspired by nature. By planting bulbs, I acknowledge that I am a steward of the earth and a practitioner of its grace, its elegance, and its charm. When I am treated to the first daffodil blossoms of the spring, I feel the peace of symmetry between plant and planter.