These crocuses first opened in my yard on March 8th. Today, a beautiful warm spring day, more crocuses opened and the honey bees came to visit! I'm sure I've never had crocuses open this early in March before - not since I moved from Tennessee to central New York 24 years ago. We are expecting a whole week of warm weather now, and some people are worried that the sap won't run in the maple trees and we won't have fresh syrup this year. I do love maple syrup as much as anyone, but I love spring flowers more, so I just can't feel too bad about it.
This afternoon I went out in the sunshine to gather the dead branches that collected around the yard during the winter, and to clean up the dead leaves around the crocuses, hoping that I might spot a fairy. No such luck, but it's comforting to know that many people have seen fairies. I have read too many first-person accounts of fairy sightings not to believe in their existence, and so I can hope that I will see one someday, too!
illustration by Cicely Mary Barker
Right now I am reading The Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account by Dora van Gelder, which says: "Love for flowers and a conscious invitation to the fairies to help is a way to come to know them and perhaps even to see them. It is love of living things which is the great bridge between the two kingdoms." So while I tend my flower gardens I invite the fairies to help me build a bridge between my world and theirs. Even though I haven't seen them yet, I think they sometimes answer the questions I ask myself while I'm observing nature. For instance, today I noticed a couple of daffodil shoots poking up through the brown leaves in an area where I know I planted lots of bulbs. I wondered why these two were coming up so far ahead of the others, and immediately the answer came: These two are just more eager to come out than the others! They are willing to take the risk that it may freeze again while the other daffodils would rather play it safe. Apparently each flower has an individual personality, something that never occurred to me before! (I'm not really sure if it's the flower or the flower fairy that decides when to emerge, but whoever it is, some like to come out sooner than others!)
Another interesting observation I made today was a little clump of crocuses blooming way in the back corner of the back yard, quite far from where I had planted the bulbs. The neighborhood squirrels enjoy digging up crocus bulbs and transplanting them in odd places. While it's annoying to have my carefully designed plantings re-arranged, it's also a delight to go out in the spring and see what nature has done all on her own, with the help of her creatures, the fairies, and the elements. Later in the spring or summer I will probably discover two or three flowers that seeded themselves from someone else's garden, and I will find out which plants the deer have a yen for this year.
Of course I always eagerly anticipate the arrival of the new flowers I planted bulbs for in the fall. Last October I put a few of my daffodil bulbs in my neighbor's yard, and I can't wait to see the reaction of these friends who have always admired my spring flowers but never planted bulbs of their own. Bulbs are such amazing, miraculous things! How could anyone plant one of those plain, brown objects, see its flower bloom in the spring, and not KNOW with absolute certainty that this is the work of Divine Love?
In reading The Door of Everything, I learned that we humans are like flower bulbs ourselves. Ruby Nelson compares us to tomato seeds and chrysalises, waiting to turn into tomatoes or butterflies. Flower bulbs and acorns offer the same kind of imagery. We just have no idea what magnificent beings we are going to turn into, but the promise is in the world all around us if we just use our eyes and don't take it all for granted. Spending time in nature - appreciating, observing, tending, and preserving - is a way to build the bridge that will take us from our bulb-like life to a life of beauty, peace, and love.
Fairy Bridge near Kewaigue