There are two tiny daffodil plants on either side of my house's front steps. I didn't plant them there, but I know they're just for me. Daffodils are my favorite flowers. I love their cheerful sunny color, their unique shape, and the perfect timing of their appearance.
I didn't grow up with daffodils. Or Springtime, for that matter. My birthplace in Florida has approximately two seasons: Summer and slightly cooler Summer. The first Spring I spent in Seattle took me by surprise. After months of rain, cold, and gray, I felt like Summer would never return. Summer in Seattle is not like Summer in Florida. In Florida, you bake and burn in the sun. You sweat and stink and lose all energy in the oppressive heat. Summer in Seattle is heaven. You reach out for the sun and soak it in. You unapologetically use every excuse to be outside. You linger on the front steps. You find new ways to experience and celebrate the beautiful weather.
Winter in Seattle drags on a bit. Towards the end of February I forget warmth and brightness and get a little glum. And then... daffodils. They spring out of the earth as bright green stalks that look alien in their somber surroundings. The cold, dead earth produces a cheeky surprise. My first year in Seattle I didn't know what was coming next, so the explosion of yellow blooms felt like a true miracle. After seven Spring seasons in Seattle, I eagerly await the coming of the daffodils as a sign of hope. Every year, the daffodils bloom exactly when I need them most. When life feels most difficult and when hope seems most impossible, that's when they show up. My beautiful daffodils split their stalks, shake open their yellow petals and point their happy faces at the sun.
Unlike more pretentious flowers, daffodils pop up all over the place so that I can enjoy them wherever I go. They're also quite inexpensive, allowing my sweet husband to surprise me with them many times throughout the season. There's nothing happier around the house than a vase full of daffodils. If you're willing to make the drive out to La Conner, you can even see fields of daffodils. The vast quantity astounds and delights me.
When I was a child in Florida, I felt like something was always missing. I was taught about the change of seasons, but I never experienced them for myself. After moving to Seattle as an adult, the arrival of fall leaves, daffodils and snowflakes in my life felt like truly coming home. I assumed that my childlike wonder about every detail would wear off - but it hasn't yet. In an adult world with very little wonder, the seasons give us true magic. Everything dies. And then, when you most need it to, everything springs to life again.
The daffodils in my yard haven't bloomed yet, but they're about to. I can see their sweet yellow petals beginning to poke out of their stalks from my window as I write this. Welcome, friends. I've missed you.
Two famous poems perfectly encapsulate my love of daffodils. I'll share them here:
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
by A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."