By Susanne Severeid
Some sensitive soul planted daffodils here in Ashland, and the flowers are now in glorious bloom. Not only did the person plant a border along an otherwise unremarkable curb near the railroad tracks, but the bulbs are placed in such a way as to bloom in the shape of a heart– a sweet surprise for anyone who happens by.
I do not know the caring person who did this, but they are obviously a lover of flowers and the joy they bring. I do remember months back seeing two men picking up trash in the area near the trestle and doing some planting. Anyone who has ever planted bulbs knows that you have to be patient and optimistic. The bulbs must lie dormant in the cold soil for months in order to bloom in spring. And then you have to bide your time, and look forward to the spring day when they will show their blooms. I lived near Amsterdam for a decade and witnessed firsthand the particular beauty of bulb-blooming flowers as only the Dutch can do: first come the crocus, then the daffodils and hyacinths, and finally, in mid-April, the glory of Holland: tulips.
For me, bulb flowers are like nature’s own clock–like we who go dormant in winter and turn inward toward the warm flames of our hearth at home, while the cold, dark days full of snow, ice and early darkness and late dawns force us indoors. Then, as the days begin to grow longer and the harshness of winter is past, when that first softness in the air of spring is felt and we see the bright green shoots begin to emerge from the soil, it is as if we, just like the daffodils, emerge into spring.
This year, in particular, it feels that way–hopefully emerging from the worst days of Covid, to be able to remove our masks and smile at one another again, to gather in groups and visit with friends again. I walked through a restaurant yesterday and, for the first time in many months, heard loud raucous laughter from a small group of young adults. It sounded so sweet. There is no denying that we are living in tough times, caught between the dire effects of global warming and Russia’s tragic, unprovoked war in Ukraine. It can be difficult to stay optimistic.
A couple of weeks ago, in spite of all this, I caught the spring bug and bought some hardy pansies and filled up my first clay pots of the season for our back deck. I needed some color, some sign of new life. Of course, the very next day we had several nights of freezing temps, so I was playing musical pots bringing in the pots every night. On one of those evenings, I said to David, “This seems kind of frivolous. People are being bombed in Ukraine, and I’m babying a bunch of pansies.” He said, “No, maybe it’s even more important at a time like this, to care for living things, to bring beauty into our lives.”
At any rate, the pansies are now ensconced on the deck for the season, the freezing danger pretty much behind us and, yes, they do bring a touch of beauty and calm just by being there. Maybe it does help me absorb the images from Ukraine. Maybe it helps me better appreciate the life I have, a life without bombs and terror and war.
I do not know who planted those daffodils so many months ago, or why they did. But I do know that it has brought a touch of unexpected sweet beauty to us right here in Ashland. It has brought a sense of heart during this confusing and difficult time for our world.
And, for that, I am grateful. Whoever spent their time and energy creating that lovely heart of bright golden daffodils has bestowed a smile upon our town on this sunny afternoon while I write this.
And that simple act is most appreciated.