On wanting to be a daffodil

I love January, full with possibility and empty of regrets. Last year’s disappointments and failures–wiped clean. All January holds is promise for the coming year.

Spring, on the other hand, demands achievement, not just effort and inspiration. Daffodils and tulips should grow tall and green before bending down with heavy flowers. Crabapple trees must cover themselves with leaves then buds then an outrageously excessive display of flowers. Grass will shake off its winter chill to transform back into a thick blue-green carpet that provides the perfect backdrop for the wonders of the spring garden.

But that’s just the garden. It’s the same story everywhere. Work projects and commitments started in the bracing cold of January must blossom in the sunlight and lengthened days of April.¬†Even then, summer threatens with child care arranging, summer camp provisioning, and family travel planning challenges. It’s not enough to just dream of possibility any more. Possibilities must be turned into executed reality. Or not, in some cases.

The difference between me and a bulb is that a bulb
has all that stored up energy plus a natural urge to do exactly what it is supposed to do. The Cheerfulness daffodils that grow among my magenta moss phlox will automatically produce double white flowers with pale yellow centers. The Claudia tulips that encircle my crabapple trees know to grow lily-flowered purple with white tipping.

I am neither so energetic nor so properly directed as a bulb. That is why every year I find spring a challenge even as I welcome the warmth and beauty it brings.

I am more like a crabapple tree than a tulip or daffodil, I suppose. I’m sure my husband and children would seize upon the “crab” in that admission. But there is more. I will bloom in the spring only if everything has gone right for me before that. Even then, I might refuse to do it if it’s not my year. I might throw out one solo branch of flowers, like one of my trees did one spring, taunting those around me with possibility if not aesthetic pleasure. I might get my buds ready to open right before a late Denver snowstorm then drop them unbloomed onto the ground, mocking those who anxiously awaited a flower show. I will only rarely do what a flowering crabapple tree should do–which is to flower, reliably and appropriately, each spring.

It’s hard to be a crabapple tree when you should be a daffodil instead.

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2 responses to “On wanting to be a daffodil

  1. As a farmer I can tell you the bulbs are not always doing what they are ‘supposed’ to do.

  2. Yes, actually my daffodils look pretty punk this year. But still, bulbs are far more reliable in terms of doing what they’re supposed to do than crabapples which seem to have plans of their own that no one but they are privy to.