Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HOCUS-POCUS…CROCUS!


That's what I said to Myladylove immediately upon my return from a brief amble with Moon-the-Dog around the mostly snow and ice-covered yard Sunday: "Hocus-pocus…crocus!"

"What are you going on about?" she asked, not unreasonably. "And why are you grinning like the Cheshire Cat?"

"Vernal magic,"I replied, "afoot in the yard!"

This time she didn't say anything, just fixed me with a stare that was one part vexation, two parts frustration, plus the familiar recurrent realization that this was the babbling fool she loved and had married, so she'd just have to put up with me until my cryptic dramatics became intelligible—which might take awhile.

"Crocus," I said, sparing her. "Green crocus shoots poking up through the leaves in a patch of bare ground alongside the wall. They weren't there yesterday…now, overnight, they're up—like magic! Spring is really on the way!"

Myladylove arose from the table where she'd been fashioning bits of turquoise and red coral into a necklace, grabbed a jacket, and headed for the door. Not because she didn't believe my report, but because the gift of such seasonal harbingers are always best experienced firsthand whenever possible. The dog and I accompanied her and I pointed out the small green spears. "Wow!" she said. "Oh, wow!"

I suppose I have several hundred crocus bulbs planted around the yard. Purple, yellow, white, lavender. I love them one and all—not only for their bright colors, but also for their cheery message that spring has come. It may be cold and gray, with fresh snow on the ground, but a crocus in bloom is not to be doubted.

Some of the crocus bulbs won't bloom before mid-April. A few will even wait for May. The majority will get going in March. But a very few—the hardy vanguard now appearing—always want to be the first to deliver the news: "Spring is coming!"

*  *  *

My mother also loved crocus, and always had a few planted beside the front porch steps and walk, and alongside the south foundation wall of the house my dad built, where I grew up and where she continued living after my father's passing in 1983, until her own death in 2005 at age 94. Of course, Mom never saw a flower she didn't like, and would invariably pause and bend close for a better look of anything in bloom—from humble dandelion or violet to the most exquisite rose. "Ohh-h-h," she'd say, "isn't that so pretty."      

I share Mom's love of flowers, wild and tame. And I'm so thankful she taught me to see the beauty in blooms…and to always be willing to take the time to savor their gift.

Today would have been Mom's 100th birthday. I miss her all the time, but especially when I see a flower in bloom…or even a few green crocus shoots finding their way up from the frozen earth in a snow-coverd yard. How I wish I could call her up and deliver the news. 

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.


*  *  *

(FYI: This is the shot of daffodil shoots—not crocus!—I mistakenly posted earlier, which came up yesterday, a day later than the crocus I wrote about. Thank's to Julie Baumlisberger [see second comment and reply] who pointed this out…and thus limited my public stupidity to a couple of hours.)  
——————— 

42 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

My Sweet Mom would have been 93 yesterday on Valentine's Day. I miss her every day.
I envy you your crocuses. It'll be quite a while before we see them up here. I think today I'll head to the store for some potted ones for the table!

Julie Baumlisberger said...

As an avid gardener, I too feel the excited rush as I see the first green shoots poking through the ground, or even snow. Although my winter aconites are the first to show their cheery yellow faces, the crocuses are the first real sign that we are to be blessed with another season of greenery and flowers very soon. Happy Birthday to your Mom!

And now, unfortunately, I must point out that the shoots in your photos are daffodils, not crocus :( Crocus leaves are fine, almost grasslike. It is the daffodils, with their big sturdy bulbs, that are the first to break ground as soon as the sun encourages them.

Beyond My Garden said...

wonderful magic. This is the time of year I wish I had taken the time to plant crocus last fall.

Tramp said...

I would hazard a guess that she knows.
...Tramp

Scott said...

I have planted crocuses around my house, but the hordes of squirrels dig them up and eat them. A few get replanted and appear in odd places in the yard, but most disappear down the gaping maws of the army of fluffy-tailed varmints that unceasingly patrol my yard. Between the deer, the groundhog with an abode under my patio, and the squirrels, I've pretty much given up on flower gardening--except for daffodils.

Grizz………… said...

Lynne…

While some of the pain of losing both Mom and Dad has passed, the sadness and loss…and emptiness remains, and at times seems even more acute. I so wish I could share this riverbank home with them; no one would enjoy it more. Alas, that is life.

Every fall I keep thinking I'll pot a few bulbs for early spring indoors—and every year I fail to do so. I'm not even sure there are any in the stores hereabouts for purchase.

Kelly said...

"Vernal magic afoot in the yard" -- I like that! I checked early this morning and nothing here yet, just the beautiful song of a male House Finch... I'm really missing the flowers this winter. My Grandma Rose must have been a lot like your mother...every flower was important and beautiful to her. She taught me to love flowers...and plant them...and dead head them...(lovely tribute to your mom).

Grizz………… said...

Julie…

Well, huh! Just goes to show how not paying attention can get you into trouble. The sad part is, I knew those were daffodils and not crocus. The daffodils you see came up yesterday, a day later than Sunday's crocus. I photographed both—but in my haste to get my post up, I paid more attention to the photo's background than its primary contents and chose the wrong shot because I didn't like all the sunflower seeds hulls cluttering up the other pix.

I've now exchanged photos and I hope you'll concur that the green shoots in the top shot are, indeed, crocus…or else I'm still wrong. Which is not at all impossible. Please let me know. And I appreciate you pointing out my mistake; no use looking like an idiot any longer than necessary. :-)

These crocus beside the cottage always bloom several days before my earliest daffodils. They're a medium purple, lavender, and white. None of my yellow crocus bloom before mid-March, though I set out some different yellow ones last fall and don't yet know where they fall on the bloom schedule.

There's a patch of woods up the road that's always carpeted with thousands of yellow aconites. One of my neighbors also has a small patch in her yard, along with a hillside of white snowdrops. I want to get a good start of both these plants, as I really love the early blooms.

Anyway, let me know if I've called it right (and now have up a burgeoning crocus shot) or whether I'm still mistaken. Ignorance is not bliss…

Grizz………… said...

Beyond My Garden…

The first thing I did after moving into this riverbank cottage was to plant spring bulbs—crocus, daffodil, etc. And I keep planting more each fall.

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

I believe sincerely and with every fiber in my being that she does. Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

I have hordes of squirrels rooting about the yard, and a groundhog who lives under the roots of an old locust on the driveway hill, plus a second one in a corner by the fence. The deer pretty much keep to the island. So far, and doubtless due to steady replantings, I have spring blooms aplenty. Should the fluffy-tailed tree rats become too greedy, I also have a great recipe for burgoo stew, which I point out to my friendly varmints regularly. (A man has to be willing to protect his assets.)

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

That's one of the things I miss so much about my Mom—not only her joy and delight in the wonders of blooming plants and singing birds, or the countless things I could share with her here along the river, but all the things she could still teach me. So much of a better way of life disappeared with those who grew up in such a different era; so many valuable lessons lost.

Yes, I expect Mom and your Grandma Rose were a lot alike—and probably would have enjoyed one another's company.

Hang in there; keep checking. If spring is creeping in here, it has to be doing so down where you're at. And, as always, thank you.

Hilary said...

What a beautiful birthday tribute to your mother. And how timely that your crocus bloomed in time for this event. Lovely post, Grizz.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

Thank you.

Oh, but I wish I could go visit Mom, cook her a birthday meal, hand her a card and a big box of some chocolates, give her and hug and tell her how much I love her and how much I appreciate all she did for me. But…I can't, not on this earth. The best I can do is remember and write about her, share her with others, and hold her always in my heart.

Bonnie said...

Little messengers heralding new life on its way! I'm sure their presence on your mother's birthday was especially significant for you. A sweet merger of meaning and remembrance.

Thanks for sharing these photographs. I don't think we will be seeing any crocus shoots for a while - especially with two feet of snow covering everything up here! However they are announcing 7 degrees F. for Friday and those hardy little crocii will accommodate the snow to find the sun . . . so who knows.

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

Some years there are blooming crocus and daffodils on Mom's birthday, other years only a few green shoots to mark the changing season.

No, with two feet of snow still down, you'll probably not be seeing anything soon—though only last week here, we still had ice, snow, and the lowest temperatures of the winter. So who knows.

Keep the faith…

Nature ID (Katie) said...

This is a fabulous post in so many ways... spring shoots, your story with Myladylove, your remembering your mum, and your ease in accepting other's corrections. Simply wonderful.

sage said...

Nice to remember your mother's birthday! The crocus is still a ways out here, but in March, in the wet spots along the river, you'll get skunk cabbage--sometimes it even pushes through the snow. We're in a warm up and I might even find enough open water to canoe on this weekend.

Gail said...

GRIZZ-

oh ya, you got my eyes filled and over flowing with tears, good tears with big sighs of joy for all that was, is. Your Mom's 100th birthday - splendid. I feel your longing and your good heartfelt memories - such gifts. :-) I a moved to tears.
Loving you this day of celebration for both your Mom and the crocus.
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Nature ID (Katie)…

Thank you for all those nice comments. I'm pleased you enjoyed the post in so many ways.

Re. the correction…while I'm as opinionated and bull-headed as anyone you're ever likely to meet, I'm also a perfectionist—at least to the point that I want my facts to be correct. This striving toward accuracy must always take precedence over ego. The writing comes before the writer.

Moreover, I'll be the first to admit that as a naturalist, I'm more "broad stroke" than "fine line." I know a lot about a lot of things, but my knowledge—even of the birds, flowers, butterflies, etc. in my own corner of the world—is far from encyclopedic. I learn new things all the time, realize mistakes, adjust my thinking. I'd much rather have had that mistake pointed out—whether it was just of that photo originally posted, or even if it turns out the second photo, too, is of something other than a crocus and the whole post is wrong— than to let it run for all those who do know better to get a chuckle and then wonder how many other mistakes I've made in what I wrote. I appreciate Julie's correction, and take no offense whatsoever.

Hey, I was goofy enough to do it in the first place, why shouldn't I be man enough to own up to it later? After all, we're just friends here—right?

Grizz………… said...

Sage…

Hey, you'd have to doge the occasional chunk of floating ice, but the river is up slightly and running well and you could have a nice float in your canoe here.

I'm going to try and get out later this week to check a couple of skunk cabbage spots near here, and also see whether the snow trillium is blooming—though it might be a tad early for that. The recent near impossible to walk on ice/snow crust has kept me from making such a foray earlier. I sure, however, that in the boggy corners, pinkish-purple sunk cabbage spathes are already poking up like little gnome heads.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Thank you, dear friend. I knew you'd understand.

Oh, but the sweet sadness of memory…

Julie Baumlisberger said...

Yes, you now have a lovely shot of crocuses! And, for the record, I love the empty sunflower shells...lucky for you they were happy with the seeds, and didn't dig up your crocus bulbs ;)

Beautiful post, Grizz.

Grizz………… said...

Julie…

Thank you again, for your nice comments and for alerting me of my photo mistake. I've been out all afternoon so I didn't get a chance to see how far these crocus have grown today—and It's dark now. Tomorrow it's supposed to break 50˚F. I know that will make a noticeable difference.

Incidentally, the sunflower seed hulls came from a feeder hanging under the eave, about five feet away and six feet above. Squirrels on raiding missions and ground feeding birds are all over these plants—but they keep reappearing year after year.

Again, thank you and thanks for getting back with the good news that I was only too hasty in my photo selection—and not totally mistaken as to the actual plants.

Bernie said...

I loved this post Grizz, you have given me as well as all your friends "hope". I love seeing these little green shoots, won't be long now before Spring arrives, I am already enjoying the longer days........:-)Hugs

Rowan said...

It's always wonderful to see the first green shoots peeping out among the dead leaves. I wish I had hundreds - I certainly planted hundreds many years ago and the squirrels feasted well that winter! There are just a few survivors now. Happy Birthday to your Mom - a bittersweet day when she's no longer here to share the day and the thrill of the crocus' appearance with you.

Jayne said...

My daffodils are on the blog this morning, but no crocus yet. :c) We were in Lowes this past weekend, and I found myself with my nose planted in the middle of some potted blooming hyacinth and grinning like a mad woman.

George said...

Good new, indeed, Grizz! With the first appearance of crocus comes the restoration of hope. May the promise of spring continue to unfold, sooner rather than later.

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

Thank you. Hope is sometimes a fragile thing, but luckily, it's also possible to restore it to double strength by nothing more than the appearance of a few green shoots in an otherwise wintry-white February world.

I'm enjoying our longer days, too…more than an hour additional over last month.
Spring is a'comin'!

Grizz………… said...

Rowan…

Though I can daily look out my window and count upwards of a dozen gray squirrels flouncing all over the yard, most of my crocus bulbs seem to escape becoming their dinner. Don't know why. Nevertheless, I plant a hundred or two crocus bulbs each fall—they're inexpensive and easy, and I kind of like that final sowing of the year. Certainly I lose a few, though, elsewise I'd have a yard covered in crocus each spring.

Grizz………… said...

Jayne…

As I told Julie in an earlier (above) comment reply, I have a few crocus which always beat out my earliest daffodils—both in the appearance of their green shoots and the actual bloom. This was also the case with Mom's plants around her house—a few crocus first, then the daffodils.

Re. hyacinths, I never see one without thinking of the old verse by Saadi:

"If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
and from thy slender store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy Hyacinths to feed thy Soul."

Frank Snare—fellow writer, fishing and book-collecting buddy, Baptist minister, and my very best friend ever for more than thirty years—loved this poem and quoted it often because he believed, as I do, in the philosophy of its message—keep your life well-stocked with beauty.

And so, at the mention of hyacinths, I think of the poem, and recalling the poem, think of Frank…which then opens a world of wonderful memories to be revisited. Funny how the mind works…

Grizz………… said...

George…

You know, I honestly wouldn't want spring to come tomorrow because I so enjoy the winding trail between here and there. Going from winter to spring shouldn't be immediate. Anticipation is a huge part of the experience. As with the best journeys, getting there is half the fun.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I love them too - particularly the mauve and purple striped ones.

Yes our mothers always stay in our memories.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I am especially taken with some deep purple crocus whose booms are so dark as to appear nearly black. I first saw them some years ago at a friend-of-a-friend's home. Alas, I've not yet found any of these bulbs to plant in my own yard…but I keep looking and hoping.

AfromTO said...

Oh my gosh I'm wading thru snowbanks and you are tiptoeing thru the daffodils!lucky you!

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO said…

Well, not quite tiptoeing through the daffodils…more like schlepping through the mud, trying to not slip on the few remaining ice patches, and minding where you step because, after all, the ground has been snow covered for weeks and you do have a dog.

The devil is in the details…

deb colarossi said...

Seriously!!??
Oh , this made my day. Tomorrow I'm going to be out on a signs of spring hunt.

and how tenderly you write of your love for your parents

Arija said...

Grizz dear, my mother passed over 23 years ago and I still miss her every day. Even three of my grandchildren who were born after she died, can often be heard saying 'Oma would have loved this", whether it is the first egg of the season or new potatoes. a clump of wildflowers or apple blossom or a batch of perfect yeast buns.

I fully understand your sentiment and know wherever she is, she knows and shares your joy.

Grizz………… said...

deb colarossi…

Seriously! For sure! I kid you not!

Little green shoots poking up through the chilled soil—spring green, resurrection green…the green that lifts the heart and renews the soul after too much winter.

Get out. Take a look. Check the buds on the willows. Listen to the birds. Turn your face to the sun and feel that reassuring certainty of unmistakable angle that says the earth is tilting back and bring sun's inexorable return. Spring is drawing near…

I loved—love!—my parents, always, forever, with all my heart.

Grizz………… said...

Arija…

Time may smooth over the sharpest edges of loss, but time never replaces that hole in your life—or the wish to be able to share your life's delights with them, be it birdsong or bloom, the turn of the seasons, a meal, laughter, a quite talk, or just an hour in their company in the peace of love.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

There was a house where I used to live that had their front lawn all planted with crocus, it was a sight to behold...so lovely a carpet to be enjoyed by all, and pretty before the grass began to grow...a purple, white and green leaved 'lawn'.

Grizz………… said...

Teri…

I'll bet that was something to see—all those crocus in bloom! That's sort of what I hope to create here one of these days…