A small clump of daffodils is nestled in the corner beside my front steps. I planted the bulbs there soon after we moved into the house – that is to say, at least 20 years ago. They’ve never amounted to much, unfortunately residing in an area of the garden that’s in constant flux. Despite their roots being dug into and disturbed year after year, spring snow storms knocking them down in the height of bloom every year, and foliage cut down prematurely every year, they always come back – in fact the clump gets a wee bit bigger each year.
In this warm sheltered corner, the daffodils emerge from the ground in early February; a heartening assurance that winter won’t last forever. They seem to remain in stasis then, until late March when the warming sun persuades the cheery blooms to open. While nature provides many subtle indications that spring is approaching, the lemon-hued daffodil announces spring with a flamboyant burst of colour. Indeed daffodils are the inaugural appearance of colour in my garden each spring – a true herald of winter’s end and the coming growing season.
Today they’ve begun to bloom – though a tad shorter than usual (likely due to yet another blast of snow and cold), still they speak of hope. Hello spring.
Much lore surrounds the daffodil: the origin of its name, its once-believed medicinal properties and even its cultural symbolism – it has been said to represent vanity, misfortune, and death. Conversely, it is also considered a symbol of rebirth, hope, joy and love. I prefer the latter.
In the year 2000, the Canadian Cancer Society adopted the daffodil as its official emblem – the quintessential sign of hope.
Few among us can say we haven’t been touched in some way by the ‘C’ word – it has taken from us our dearest family members, our best friends and our beloved pets. For those who’ve survived its ravages, it has scarred or disfigured, taken our dignity, our youthful energy and our trust in life. But it can never take away hope – hope for a cure, hope for another day. As long as there is hope there can be joy – this is what the daffodil represents for many.
Shortly before the birth of my first child, my sister Pat was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a grave diagnosis requiring many months of chemo. During her intermittent hospital stays, there was always a vase of daffodils by her bedside. One such night, lying there anxious and alone, a vase of yet-to-open daffies on her nightstand, she asked God for strength, for healing, or merely for acceptance of whatever He willed. Shortly thereafter, she heard a barely audible ‘pop’………then a puff of sweet fragrance. Turning to the daffodils she saw that the first of the bunch had just opened. Then pop, pop, pop – several more opened right before her eyes, each one accompanied by the same sweet scent. I believe, as does she, that this was a moment with the Divine, an otherworldly gift – a sign of hope. My sister knew then, that regardless of the outcome, everything was going to be okay.
The month of April is Daffodil month in Canada, the Cancer Society’s spring fundraising campaign of door-to-door daffodil sales. Daffodils can also be purchased at numerous venues around your city, as well as online.
Let’s all set a vase of these bright beacons of hope, the lovely Narcissus, on our tables – it will brighten our days, and give hope to others.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” ~ Albert Einstein ~Yours in good health Sue
© Sue Gaviller and Not Another Gardening Blog 2012.
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