An Ode to the Crocus and all its Royal Companions

Spring unveils its beauty in tantalizing bits where I live; it takes my spirit on a journey with each new day. Even as brash winds shake the treetops and chill rain rattles my bones, crocus and snowdrops have the nerve to venture forth. I am drawn to their instinctive resolve in the face of drenchings or filmy ice, the long days of grey that can simply seem like paler shades of night. Are they so hopeful that all will unfold as it has years before? Such royalty, the flowers, along with their attendants, the trees and shrubs which keep their places from autumn through summer. 

Still, leaving winter is not an altogether easy event. I have been busy listening to the jazz patter or vast symphonic sweep of rain for months. I have tasted its bright coldness when walking day and night, my parka pulled close. The wind chimes have crashed against the outside wall as though engaged in emphatic disputes with the northeastern storms that barrel down the Columbia Gorge. It enlivens my mind just to walk outside and smell the wet earthen scents in winter, and at night, I am lulled by sheaves of water outside my window. Verdant is the world in which I walk, work and seek small adventures. All is persistent green and overlayed with charcoal/slate/pewter/silver, a shining work of art as the low light fans across the earth.

Since November I have often sat wrapped in a soft blanket and noted the glistening views outdoors as I’ve worked, dry and warm, on writing. There is always a steaming yellow and lavender mug of tea warming my hands; my books crouch around me like co-conspirators. I bask in the comfort of  shelter as the rain envelops the world and dream of my characters in the novel I am revising. Perhaps  Sophie will make her way to the end of the peninsula where her husband drowned and see his visage rising with the lake mist, his finger pointing at her accusingly. Will she stare him down or will she turn and take her faithful husky, Daedalus, back to the chapel-house and dance in front of the roaring fireplace? I pull the blanket around my shoulders, set down the mug and type to the accompaniment of rain dashing the windows.

I am not unhappy with winter here. The constancy of rainfall is a balm and the soft light turns me inward.  But in January when I spot the first tender-petaled crocus, there is shiver of anticipation. I know how much more will be given us in lengthening days, with bursts of warmth and sunlight. Daffodils have been sighted in early February. Bright pink camellias bloom in all their sassiness and daphne beckon me from around a corner with their heady perfume. The cherry and apple blossoms burst open, as will dogwood; a raft of others will unfurl their buds. Petunias and pansies in a rich palette of colors last most of the year but new plantings will cheer up stone walls and porches. My neighborhood will be graced with redolent gardens; I linger at their edges during walks. Before me unfolds a grand pageantry of vivid color and design, both natural and human-made. In June there will be a bounty of roses to smell deeply, as this is famous rose country and thousands travel from afar to admire them. And the voluptuous lilacs? They rule for a short while yet keep us in their thrall.

But the best moment will come in late April or May. I will enter the woods quietly and seek the flash of white or purple adorned with deep green: trillium. This is the wildflower that informs my longing for the natural world with a mysterious desire, a stirring of both the sublime and common. The simplicity of the trillium belies a luminous beauty and brings me to a point of stillness within; when I spot it among the underbrush of the woods I catch my breath. I scan the expanse of trees and profuse ferns and seeing no one nearby, step forward and crouch on the damp ground, my hands cupping its face. It is perfect amid the moss and lichen, the fallen trees. For me, it shines like a jewel in the clean spring light, like a small angelic visitation amid the rubble and detritus of life. And I take my place with it for a few rareified moments.

My gradual farewell to winter will be tinged with fondness as it has kept me company and brought me gifts of many sorts. But soon the sunny breezes will sweep away the rain. I will enjoy the heraldry of the crocus, daffodils and all the others as I roam the deep woods, awaiting the treasure of trillium.

One thought on “An Ode to the Crocus and all its Royal Companions

  1. Such lovely writing, Cynthia! And I am so glad to know that you’ve taken the manuscript out of the drawer! I still think about Sophie and her life and hope she will find her way to a place of light.

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