Deep roots

Aren't they pretty, considering they spent days with their faces down on the ground?  The abundant petals that weighed them down also made their blooms stronger.

Aren’t they pretty, considering they spent days with their faces down on the ground?
The abundant petals that weighed them down also seem to make the blooms stronger.

“The old that is strong does not wither.  Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien

I quoted from this poem in an earlier post, but recently its timeless words have been on my mind again.  I was reminded of these particular lines by the daffodils in my yard. Daffodils are my favorite flowers, toughing out the cold and blooming before the weather warms up enough to justify their bright optimism.  Year after year, they prove that the frost doesn’t kill everything.

The doubles I planted years ago have been disappointing outdoors, though.  They are so beautifully full that they have a hard time holding their heads up when they reach peak bloom. They generally nosedive to the ground just when they look prettiest.  (Does anyone have any hints how to solve this?  It would take a lot of stakes to hold them all up.)

The other day, I was so sad seeing them all lying face down in the foliage that I decided to do what some gardeners have told me not to do: cut them and bring them inside.  I figured they were nearly gone anyway, and I wanted to enjoy them.

I was surprised to find that not only had they retained their lush beauty, but with the support of a crystal bud vase, they kept their showy splendor for over a week indoors, far longer than my ordinary daffodils ever do.  I simply bound them together loosely to help support their weight, and they brought me joy every time I saw them.  They even traveled from York to Alexandria wrapped in a wet paper towel, and arrived none the worse for wear.

That got me thinking about how people often are like that.  Sometimes the very virtues that make us remarkable can also act as liabilities, holding us back or wearing us out unless we get the support we need.

This is especially true as we grow older.  While each of us experiences the loss of some of our physical or mental abilities, it seems that everyone has areas where they remain strong, and these traits do not wither.  In fact, many of them, such as wisdom, patience or compassion, grow stronger with age.  Like the gorgeous blooms of the drooping daffodils, that which is strong in us sometimes remains with us until we die, no matter how beset with illness or infirmity we grow.

I once knew a lovely lady who had the best manners of anyone I had ever seen.  Just being around her inspired me to want to be more gracious and polite.  Her kindness and courtesy remained with her to the end of her days, endearing her to the health care staff who attended to her needs through years of living with Alzheimer’s disease.

We all have known people who remained astoundingly strong in the face of grave illness, mentally sharp even when dealing with physical decline, or resolutely cheerful despite lacking abilities that most of us would consider necessary for happiness.  Often, their challenges and losses mean they require a bit of extra support, but the beauty of their unique gifts shines on, blessing all who are lucky enough to know them.

 

27 Comments

  1. Good morning, Julia! How Insightful and inspiring! You brought to mind my uncle Joe, who seems to be forever meddling in others’ affairs, and on boards and committees – to bring about peace, reconciliation, and relationship. He has a carotid pseudo aneurysm behind his jaw (inoperable), but as a wounded warrior, the military has given him a service dog, trained to remind him to calm down anytime he becomes agitated (could raise his blood pressure or cause other problems). So – off he goes, peacefully and happily into the world with his dog, Anthem, at his side.

    • Susan, Anthem is a beautiful name for a dog, especially a service dog! Your Uncle Joe sounds so like many people I love (including me). For some of us, it’s so hard not to become meddlesome when we care deeply about people, nature, our country, the world…you get the idea. I know that those of us with an activist streak, whether it manifests in politics, religion, community affairs or just personal relationships, can be almost unbearable at times to those who are more easy-going and satisfied. Yet I have a special place in my heart for anyone whose character tends toward activism, because I know and understand that it springs from deep concern, however unwanted or even misguided that concern may be in certain circumstances. In that context, a service dog is truly a Godsend — no other animal cares more deeply than a dog does, yet they are models of contentment and the best stress-busters around! I have come to believe that dogs were created especially to fill a particular role in the lives of so many of us, and I am thrilled that the use of service animals is becoming more widespread and valued.

  2. Ann

    Julia, I’ve never seen such lovely daffodils! They were made for that beautiful crystal vase.

    The sentiments expressed in the rest of your blog are so true (and so well put).

    Hope all is well with you and yours🌻🌻

    Ann

    • Thanks Ann! They were just too pretty to let them languish unseen, faces to the ground. We are doing pretty well. Jeff is tolerating this round of chemo admirably, though I often worry that he is just putting on a tough and brave face, and is suffering more than we realize. The coming of spring has me out and about more, with less time for the computer, but we appreciate your staying in touch. Hope all is going well in your world too!

  3. raynard

    Julia popsickle sticks might help you out with those plants. Its just the McGuiver in me. Lol. I still find tips online at Readers Digest,Goodhousekeeping,Better homes and gardens,Family Circle and This Old House magazine. My wife had some potted hydrangias on the patio. My green thumb. Are now used to paint my wifes aunts fingernails lol. If interested I have some recent pictures of the cakes i baked the last week or so. Be blessed and my reguards to Jeff and Matt

    • Raynard I never thought about Popsicle sticks, but I’ll have to try that. I also considered saving my used chopsticks and using them instead of having the restaurant toss them out. I love Reader’s Digest and Family Circle, both of which I’ve been reading for years. I love hydrangeas but ours haven’t been doing that great the past year or two. They are planted in our yard among the azaleas which are taking all the space and probably all the light and water too. Probably I should move them. If you have a chance to send the photos of your cakes I’d love to see them. I have a photo I took for you recently but I have still not gotten around to sending it. It’s nothing fancy like a cake, but when you see it you will know immediately why I took the photo out the car window with the plan of sending it to you.

  4. Amy

    What beautiful flowers. Hope all is well. Miss you.

    • Hey Ms. Lady, you must be picking up my vibes because I have been missing you too and wanting to call. Are you taking any days off this week? If so I’d love to come have a chat. Hope you are all doing well. We are OK. Jeff is holding up relatively well under this new chemo routine. His CEA is going steadily down based on the last two readings, and his blood counts are holding steady, though they had to decrease his dosage after about two sessions — but we are grateful that things are going as well as they are. Of course the next round of scans will tell the tale, but until then we continue to live on hope, faith and prayers. He is still working full time and has now surpassed Superman in my eyes. Love you. Let me know your schedule.

      • I’m glad things are holding steady for your Superman, Julia. I’m sure it helps that he lives with Wonder Woman. xox

        • First thought: “Awwww, Alys is always so sweet.”

          Second thought: “Wait a minute…does this mean he’s two-timing me? Where is that digitally-enhanced celluloid tramp? I’ll KILL her!!!” 😀 😀 😀

  5. Amen, Julia!
    I believe Faith is the attribute that sees us through our darkest moments. When we think we are truly alone, faith proves otherwise.
    -Alan

    • I agree, Alan. It’s like that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. For some it’s an oncoming train, or so the joke goes, but for me it’s the promise of better things to come. “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

  6. Wow, does this quote ring so true today regarding Bill! 😥 He is recovering from acute diverticulitis that has required 5 days in the hospital. I attribute his improvement today on a chocolate milkshake that I delivered to him. 👫 He’ll be coming home tomorrow! I must email you regarding an upcoming trip. Your words mean the world, always. Love y’all, Sheila

    • Sheila, I am so sorry to hear that Bill has been in the hospital. I hope he will be home and good as new very soon. I’ll look forward to hearing about your upcoming trip…I hope it might be in our direction? 😀 Cyber hugs to both of you!

  7. Beautiful!

    • Thank you Merry!

  8. I’m proud of you for cutting those flowers and bringing them indoors. How nice that they traveled with you as well. They’re stunning.

    One thought for providing them support is to plant other things around them, or plant the daffodils in a greater quantity so that they support themselves. They may also be heavy with morning dew, so a quick shake of the flowers might lighten them up as well. Its a nice excuse to visit them in the garden each day.

    They’re a cheerful flower, aren’t they? I’m glad you have some in your garden to enjoy and when the time is right, you can bring them indoors as well.

    • Alys, that’s a great idea about planting others around them. Maybe if I mix the regular daffodils in with the doubles, it will look pretty and provide lots of foliage to hold them up. I do think that the dew is probably an issue; I know the rain always sends them diving down. Thanks for the tips!

      • So much of gardening is trial and error. It’s fun when you find the perfect solution for a happy garden. Enjoy!

  9. It’s kind of like trying to find that thing that will hold us up when our face is heading down. I’ll never look at daffodils the same.

    • For me, the thing that holds me up is a bit different depending on the circumstances, but I’m always grateful for support in all its various forms. Those daffodils provided me with support after I gave them a little of the same. It’s nice how it works that way sometimes. Whenever I read that a post has been interesting or helpful to someone, it helps me too, just knowing that! Thanks for being here.

      • Most of us are there for each other. You have a great support system in place. Daffodils let us know there is still hope.

  10. You know Julia thanks to blogs like yours I was able to play it forward this morning by encouraging a young lady that was terribly depressed by what life has handed her. She was so overtaxed and stressed out in an effort to please everyone all the time. I referred her to a book that helped me get through a bout with suicidal depression called , “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff and it’s all small stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson. We can reach out through our blogs and lift people up and in so doing help our spirit as well. – Bob

    • Bob, I really enjoyed several of Richard Carlson’s books, and was so sad when he died unexpectedly at such a young age (an embolism while on an airline flight, I think). I believe his wife is working to continue his legacy. He translated a lot of fairly advanced cognitive therapy into language that we all could understand, and his friendly and non-judgmental tone was a real support. I have heard so many people say they have been helped by his books. Perhaps his influence is part of many blogs, including ours. I agree with you that there is no better way to get past our own sorrows than by reaching out to help others who are struggling. Thanks for being here!

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