Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We’ve returned to our cottage on The Mountain and, this morning, went out to St. Mary’s of Sewanee where we worship several mornings a week. Both my home and the convent have announced Spring in the yards where clusters of yellow and white daffodils that endured a hard winter this year have been emboldened to grow in blustery March. Trees look “like bare ruined choirs,” as the poetess Edna Millay wrote, and the rose garden at St. Mary’s is devoid of blooms. My own garden has become a place of dried brown stalks. However, during the past two days temps have risen to 70 degrees, and I anticipate more Spring foliage soon.

I bring in handfuls of daffodils from my front lawn, which is really the woods, and the trumpet-like yellow flowers, clustered in a blue vase, light up the dining table. Even though daffodils show such spectacular beauty, all of the varieties contain an alkaloid poison in bulbs and leaves. The root of the flower was once used by Romans as an emollient, but florists today often complain of an eczema-like condition from handling daffodils.

Breeders are currently working to create cultivars of daffodils in pink, rose, red, orange, and green tones which are bled from the more highly colored coronas onto perianth segments of white and yellow. The process produces enhanced coloration, but I prefer my woods-growing, “au naturel” varieties! (By the way, daffodils also smell wonderful).

It’s fitting that daffodil days are sponsored by The American Cancer Society because the yellow and white blooms symbolize Hope to survivors of cancer and those undergoing treatment for the disease. One of my favorite poets, e. e. cummings, has something to say about the daffodil…and other Spring blooms that inspire poetry. The poem is called “This one’s for you:’


“in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so (forgetting seem)

in times of roses (who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if, remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend
remember seek (forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me.”
e.e. cummngs

The photograph above is of a cluster of daffodils in my front yard here at Sewanee.
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