pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Sunday, March 18, 2012


A fresh new season is making its presence felt in the Ozarks! The days are warmer and balmier, and the grass is beginning to green up. Looking out over the treetops from a high vantage point, there is a distinct blurring, indicating the soon-to-pop-open leaf buds. Serviceberry and wild plum add a bright spot of white in the dull gray of the late winter woods, while redbud and wild cherries lend splashes of pinks and purples to spring's first bouquet. The lime green of sassafras buds in the fencerows let us know that the time has passed to dig their roots and make tea. Birds are singing up a storm and pairing into couples, and we can hear the peepers when we stand outside at night. There is new life calves, goats and ducks abound. This season truly celebrates life.

If there is one thing that speaks spring to me, it is daffodils. What a miracle they are! Plant them once and then just sit back to be rewarded, year after year, as they faithfully rebloom and multiply, while requiring no care whatsoever. Could there be a more perfect flower?

My favorite rite of spring is to drive the backroads around our farm, looking for these dependable bloomers at the old abandoned home sites that were once busy farmsteads. I love to imagine the women who planted them and wonder how they came to be here. I think of wagons packed somewhere back East, with  little room to spare for luxuries. But surely space could be made for a tiny bundle of bulbs, dug from a mother's or grandmother's garden. Carried across the wild frontier to a new home in a strange place, tenderly planted as fall's winds blew colder and colder, the daffodil bulbs with their promise of spring were also a living connection to loved ones left behind. To think that they still bloom today, scores of years after being set out, seems a real wonder! 

When I was growing up, we called them Easter lilies. I guess they are mere imitations of the real thing, but I much prefer a fruit-jar bouquet of simple, yellow daffodils to any delicate hothouse plant. Their golden color and sweet fragrance are such a welcome bright spot after the long, dark winter. 

So off I go on a warm March afternoon, in search of an old, tumbledown shack that was once a family's home. Sure enough, scattered all around the place, coming up through the refuse and rubbish and weeds and tangled vines, there they are. Hundreds of them, faces turned to the sun, as they fulfill their promise, year after year, without fail. And after I've gathered a bouquet, once again, I pull out my shovel to dig some clumps and set them in one of my flowerbeds. They won't be missed here, and I'll enjoy them for years to come. That sharing,that began so long ago, continues to this day....