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The bravery of daffodils
Reminding us that winter won't last forever
I don’t know what internal timeline daffodils follow, but on a cold day in early February, when the wind is in a battle to suck all the warmth out of your body the moment you step out the door and, by the way, the wind is winning? On a day like that, the timeline followed by daffodils seems more than a little foolhardy.
After all, there it is, not the flowers yet, but the green shoots pushing up from the dirt, straight into that wind. Almost 6 inches worth in my backyard and the churchyard. Six inches of green life daring this cold? What is the daffodil even thinking?
Every year, I’m amazed by daffodils. Amazed by the suddenness with which they appear, almost always after a layer of snow has melted. Maybe that’s the signal they’re following—push through after the right snowfall. Emerge first under a gentle blanket of white.
We think of daffodils as spring flowers and so they are. But their prelude is all winter. We won’t see their bright, yellow faces until March or April, but by late January or February, they’ve already poked their heads out of the ground, reminding us what’s on its way.
Their green shoots appear in what feels like the very darkest part of the year. The bleak midwinter. Imbolc. Candlemas. Groundhog’s Day. The name for the holiday may change, but they all more or less mark the moment when we have just had enough. Okay, winter was novel at first. We got to wear our sweaters and our new puffy coat. The snow was amusing. The below zero weather and frozen pipes—less so.
The daffodil shoots show up to remind us that the days are getting longer and have been since December. With a gentle nudge, they suggest that even in the cold, it might be a good idea to go outside and soak up the sunshine…when it shows up.
The daffodil shoots remind us of the cyclical nature of time. Nothing lasts forever, even if in the winter, we begin to forget that we were ever warm.
Even now, things are happening beneath the surface. Shoots are making their way up toward the light. Trees are gearing up for buds and flowers and new leaves. Birds are on the move, headed back our way. It takes a long time for the world to wake up for spring, the daffodil shoots remind us.
Even in the quiet, change is happening.