One day

These little flowers brightened my kitchen all week, February 2018.

“I have wandered far upon the desert plain, but in my heart a bird keeps singing, and the daffodils beckon and blow, β€” and one day I shall wander back.”Muriel Strode

Last week was a good one for me, but it began on a gloomy note. I spent most of the week at our York home, where I had hoped to get some yard work done in the unseasonably warm weather. But the first day I was there it was rainy and overcast, and there was little I could do outdoors. The rain exacerbated my sad and lonely mood.

I decided that I would at least begin to prioritize what to do if it turned sunny. Taking advantage of the 60-degree temperature that made the soggy ground more bearable, I strolled around the wooded area behind our back yard, which comprises about a third of our lot. This area lies outside the fence, and I jokingly dubbed it the Lower 40 when we first moved there almost 14 years ago. It was only the second time I had been back there since Jeff died. As with so much else, it is still redolent of dashed dreams and lingering loss.

The setting was fraught with that peculiar melancholy common in late winter, when much is dead and bare, left messy and moldering by the weeks of cold. Jeff’s long illness meant that the woodland we had once tended so lovingly was neglected for several years, and I silently resigned myself to the very real possibility that it would remain so as long as I own the property.

As I neared the creek that forms the back boundary of our lot, I was flooded with joy at the unexpected sight of daffodils blooming in mid-February. There is a tiny patch of them on the creek bank that have been growing wild there for as long as we’ve lived nearby. For some reason, though they are growing in full shade, they always bloom earlier than the larger daffodil bulbs I planted in various sunnier spots in the front and back yard.

I love to see them each year, and I’m always tempted to pick them or dig them up and transplant them, since the only eyes likely to see them are mine and those of the deer and other creatures who come to the stream to drink. Usually I decide to leave them where they are, gracing an otherwise drab scene. If I’d had my camera with me, I probably would have taken a photo or two, and left them alone.

But that day, it seemed they had appeared just for me, almost calling out my name. I picked several of them and brought them inside where I enjoyed them all week. They were still blooming when I left, so I changed out the water in the little vase and put them in the fridge to see if they would keep while I was gone. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

By morning light…

I think I’ve mentioned here before that daffodils have always been my favorite flowers. I still have a dried one from the bunch Jeff brought to me at the hospital on the morning Drew was born. They seem irrepressibly cheerful to me, their yellow color and unique form putting a smile on my face no matter how I might feel before I first spot them.

…and when the late afternoon sun hit them.



More than any other flower, they beckon me to believe in the springtime to come, literally and figuratively.

I hope that your week will hold everyday surprises that brighten your days as my little flowers have brightened mine.



  1. It’s odd how a single bright thing can cheer us up so much. I hope your daffodils last in the fridge. Here it’s cold and crisp and some of the spring flowers may be regretting having bloomed so early.

    • Jan, I’m worrying the same thing about early bloomers. My plum tree was sprouting buds everywhere and though it always blooms quite early, this seemed a bit TOO early. Time will tell…meanwhile, I keep looking for primroses to plant, but so far, none. Yes, a single note of cheer can make all the difference. Here’s wishing you many of them this week!

  2. Chris

    We have some daffodils blooming in our yard now. I don’t know why, but we’ve always called them “buttercups”. 😊 They are pretty, and cheery!
    Have a wonderful week!

    • Chris, I’ve heard them called buttercups, jonquils, and narcissus, and probably other things too, but by any name they are gorgeous. I once heard Jeff’s mother refer to them as “Marchflowers” which I though was an interesting (and appropriate) variation. If you have some blooming too, that means mine were not a fluke and spring might really be on the way!

  3. Ann

    What lovely daffodils! South of you, We have lots of camellias in bloom along with Japanese Magnolia, flowering quince and forsythias but no daffodils! The only ones I have seen are the small ones that Trader Joe’s is selling so thanks for sharing. The grounds of your home in York sound wonderful, a place to rest and replenish your soul. Burning question: are daffodils and buttercups the same flower?

    • Ann, I was tempted to pick up some of those cute ones in Trader Joe’s last time I was in there. I love that they always get them in at this time of year. I noticed one of my camellias is in bloom (most bloom in December) but only the flowers on the bottom were open. Most of the buds had turned brown without even opening. I’ve never seen that before and I wonder what caused it? I hope it’s not some disease. The ones that did open looked very colorful and healthy, but perhaps 80-90% of the buds were brown and unopened. 😦 Re: daffodils vs. buttercups: here are three websites that tackled the question, but I can’t vouch for accuracy. The general consensus seems to indicate that they are two different flowers, but daffodils are often called buttercups:

      • Ann

        When a camellia buds and then there is a freeze, the buds turn brown and don’t open. No long term damage ( voice of experience here).

        • Ann

          Local experts say our lack of daffodils is due to unusually dry conditions over the fall and winter..who knew?

          • Hmm, maybe that means I should do some extra winter watering where the bulbs are planted? Usually I do absolutely NO watering in the winter.

        • Thank you, Ann! That’s a great relief, because I really love my camellias. They have the prettiest winter foliage of almost any shrub, and their shiny green leaves really perk up the winter landscape. I would be so sad if they got “sick” on me.

  4. Julia, I love daffodils too! You made me smile big this morning!😷. Love to you and Matt!πŸ’Ÿ

    • Thank you, Cherie! Knowing I made you smile makes me smile. πŸ™‚ ❀ Sending love and light your way!!

  5. Renee West

    You find beauty throughout God’s creation and you so eloquently and with a profound connection of words, share this beauty with us–your readers. Thank you for using your gift to encourage and influence others. Love you!

    • Thank you, Renee. I’ve been missing you! Hey are you in town next week? If so we need to plan for a visit. Tons of catching up to do. I appreciate your encouragement and your visits here! Love you.

  6. Sheila

    πŸ’›πŸ’› GOOD MORNING πŸ’›πŸ’› Julia, let’s walk on some sunshine…. over to our March porch. I can hardly wait to see our next Verandah, but I won’t rush the days as they go fast enough on their own. We were at Willow Tree for the weekend and on one of our many walks I pointed out sweet little daffodils to Bill. I’m seeing signs of Spring everywhere but realize we could see a β€œcold snap” in March. Last March saw us enjoying 75 degrees as we walked around Alexandria and the next day it was snowing, as Jeff was laid to rest. That touched us, beyond words! As sad as it was, the day had so many beautiful moments. I’m so happy that you strolled those grounds and that blooming bouquet lifted your spirits! 🌝 Hi to Matt πŸ‘‹πŸ» and know I think of you both so often, every day! Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, it means so much to me that you and Bill were here last March, even though we didn’t have time to get in a visit. Maybe next time you come back we can have more time for that! Hey I found out how to avoid “cheating” on the Verandah even when I need to plan ahead. I have now hung a second calendar under the Verandah one, and when I need to look at future months for planning purposes, I use the second one so the surprise won’t be spoiled. Of course I’m never in a rush to leave the one we’re on anyway. What an enchanting world this is, to have so many gorgeous Verandahs, and no two alike! (I still have all my old Verandah calendars and I might turn them into a scrapbook with some of my favorite poems or maybe some of your comments from here, hee-hee πŸ™‚ ) In between my calendar, my tea pot and my imaginary trips to the beach, I have many occasions to think of you each day too. Love to you and “the guys” at 428!

  7. February is a hard month to get through. For me is was better than January. The rain has been keeping me inside as well when I want to be outside walking or in the garden cleaning up. This weather will exacerbate grief without doubt. I love the daffodils in February as the signify hope of better things to come. Giant hugs,

    • Marlene, the only good thing about winter is that even when I can’t be outdoors, I totally love being indoors too. That’s where my photos and books and crafts and most of my memories are, so it’s nice to have an “excuse” to hibernate. It can be rough on the mood, though, so I like to keep lots of tea, music and other delights close at hand to get me through the rough spots. Hey I finally got a new sewing machine just for mending and hemming Matt’s pants (he wears a 26.5 inseam so it’s all but impossible to find pants short enough for him, and I got tired of special ordering the same old brands over and over). My machine is a Brother, a cheap model, but it’s better than my old metal Singer, which had lost its mojo a long time ago. It got so it wouldn’t even do a straight stitch. It will be a whole new learning curve but eventually I might get the hang of it. Brought back memories of the sewing class my mother sent me to when I was 12 years old. There was a Singer store at the mall and they gave classes every summer. Probably they were free or very inexpensive, or my mother would not have signed me up for them. πŸ™‚ But I think sewing is a useful skill to have even for those of us who don’t do anything but mending and the occasional curtains or draperies. In the military with the frequent moves, my old machine made lots of curtains. Giant daffodil hugs!

      • Brother machines are better than they were and the rest have slipped a notch down since they are mostly not being made in Europe anymore. That’s a very short inseam. I’ve hemmed my share of trousers too. I’m ready to see the sun too. More rain this week but maybe next week will lift my spirits a bit. Feeling a little blue myself. Always the struggle to keep on the face for others.

        • Marlene, I keep telling you we are twins separated at birth. Your words “always the struggle to keep on the face for others” really hit home– except that I sort of stopped worrying about that years ago, and now I probably don’t do it enough. But whenever people politely ask “how are you doing” I am tempted to reply “do you really want to know?” and I almost certainly have said words to that effect many times. The truth is that the person who most benefits from my forcing a “fake it till you make it” cheerfulness is me, always, so that’s reason enough. I hope that your weather is benevolent and uplifting soon, if not already. We’ve endured two very windy days — to the point that they closed the schools, which I had never, ever seen happen, but we battened down the hatches and were lucky not to lose power. Our friends visiting from India were unable to see any of the sights we had planned for them during the short time they are able to be here before leaving to see other friends in the USA, but we had a good time just visiting together while confined to the house. I kept hoping to pick up some Tamil from hearing them speaking it to each other, but no luck on that πŸ™‚ . Fortunately their English is fluent. Their daughter who just finished college can speak English with barely any trace of an accent. Anyone who is bilingual or multilingual has my envy, but to be so proficient at not only another language, but an entirely different alphabet, is truly remarkable to me. So the gloomy weather was brightened by lots of interesting conversation. Matt is such a sociable person that he loves to have other people around. Maybe one day it can be you here with us! Meanwhile, thanks for being here online with us. Giant hopeful hugs!

          • When people ask how I am I often say I’m as good as I can be then offer a smile. It’s up to them if they want to take it further.

            • That’s a good way to handle it. I’ll try to remember that one.

  8. Bobby Harris

    Those lovely little daffodils are “February Gold”. First to bloom and such a joy at the end of winter. I’m glad you left the naturalized ones in place. You can buy bulbs to plant where you can see them sooner but it is always nice to be surprised by the unexpected. Hope yours last.

    • Bobby, you’re right about the surprise being such a joy. Each year when I see them I’m always surprised, and it’s the first real sign of spring for me, always a happy and hopeful moment. How are y’all doing ? I miss you. I was thinking how glad I was to see you at Jeff’s funeral one year ago. I imagine it’s still pretty cold in Indiana right now, but maybe you are not that far behind with the springtime weather. It’s been warmer in lots of places this year.

      • Bobby Harris

        It is slowly warming here, I have crocuses and hellebores are blooming but no daffodils yet.. We have had more sunny days of late but more rain and maybe a little snow is on its way. So far no extreme spring weather. It is too wet and cool to work in the flower beds but I’m getting itchy to get started

        • Hi Bobby, I didn’t realize hellebores bloomed so soon. I think they are lovely. Do you know whether they grow in Virginia and if so, how easy are they to cultivate? This week has been much cooler than last week, but I’ve been “bitten” by the springtime gardening bug, so I worked outside with gloves on and went in to warm up with tea now and then. Besides picking up ENDLESS gumballs and other general cleaning up, I planted some Rock Cress out by the mailbox, and added a dwarf rhododendron near the deck. I also transplanted two fairly good sized nandinas and moved several irises that were not getting enough sun to bloom. Today I had the lawn care guy come out and put down six yards of double shred bark mulch in all the flower beds. It looks so wonderful with the fresh edging. Can’t wait until the azaleas start to bloom. It won’t be long now! Get those gloves ready! πŸ™‚

          • Bobby

            Yes, hellebores grow in VA. I moved one from Seaford to here and it survived. They take about the same conditions as hosta and very little care. There are some beautiful varieties.
            MY gumballs turned into golf balls–we live next to a par three golf course and driving range. The yard is FULL of golf balls. Last Easter I had several of my great-nieces and nephews here and they had a Easter ball hunt. I loved it.

            • Bobby, I’ll have to start looking for some hellebores to plant. Wow, golf balls would be a definite improvement over gumballs. Maybe your great nieces and nephews can go door to door selling them back to golfers at a bargain price! πŸ™‚

  9. Linda Blackford

    I’m thinking Jeff gave you another bouquet that day. I’ve chosen to see little happy surprises like that as reminders that those I love are very nearby!

    • Linda, my thinking exactly. It takes a bit of the sting out of not being able to share it with him in “real time.”

  10. MaryEllen Davis

    Blessings to you, Julia. Your daffodils have brightened my day.

    • Thank you, MaryEllen. I’m so happy to spread the cheer. Thanks for being here with us!

  11. So then you must be familiar with one of my favorite Wordsworth poems.
    I thought of it my first trip to Scotland when I saw daffodils EVERYWHERE.

    • Yes, I do love that poem. I have a very clear memory of the first time I read it, in my friend’s school notebook where she had written it out longhand. She went to a different elementary school than I did. I was young and knew nothing about poetry, but I remember being quite impressed with the cadence of the verses and the way it captured what it must have felt like to come on a huge field of daffodils. It wasn’t until many years later that I had that experience myself, but to this day when I see a field of them, that poem runs through my mind. Oh, to be able to say “my first trip to Scotland!” I’ve never been there even one time, despite having heavily Scots Irish ancestry. The closest I’ve gotten is York. But maybe someday! Now that I know there are daffodils everywhere, that gives me one more reason to go — and I’ll aim for a springtime visit!

      • My Matt’s never been either and he has the same ancestry. I keep telling him that I’ve got to take him one of these days. πŸ˜‰

        • Yes, you must! If you can find an extra-large trunk with breathing vents, maybe I can stowaway and go with you. πŸ™‚ I need to find whatever is the reverse of the Blarney Stone to kiss. I figure that if there is such a Celtic charm for turning a garrulous person into a taciturn one, it must be in Scotland somewhere…

  12. Good morning, Julia!
    Late in winter I can hear the chickadees’ spring song, but sometimes I hear it as early as early January, and I think, “that poor bird is delusional.”
    However, I take daffodils as irrefutable evidence that spring is on its way! I can hardly wait to see them here, in the north!

    • Hi Susan! I didn’t even realize chickadees had a spring song. I went online and listened to their music. They have a lot of different sounds! Maybe the chickadees had flown over some “surprise” daffodils somewhere :-). I hope you have a daffodil sighting soon!

      • I will have to go to Trader Joe’s if I’d like to see daffodils any time this week! Although we weren’t hit as hard in Minnesota as in New England, there sure is plenty of snow in my neighborhood!

        • So are you back in Minnesota now? And is your address still the same one? You will laugh when you see what I’ve been wanting to send you. It has absolutely no intrinsic value whatsoever, just hopefully good for a funny memory or two.

  13. Julia, good morning. I look for early daffodils to brighten winter days.

    • Merry, aren’t they wonderful? They show up just in time! ❀

  14. Harry Sims

    I can’t put my finger on it but I kind of “come alive” this time of year.

    • I think all of nature can identify with that. πŸ™‚

  15. Carolyn

    I love daffodils and we have them blooming here. When We came home from doctors visit this week ,we saw many in bloom. I will be happy when I can be outside. Still a little cool. I will try and send you a message about what is going on now. Thank you for the card and I enjoyed a cup of tea,I haven’t had the green tea yet. Wish we could enjoy a cup together., I was thinking of you while I was drinking the tea. Hugs to you and Matt. ❀️You two.

    • Carolyn, it’s good to hear from you. Yes, the spring weather will be therapeutic. We are keeping you in our prayers and hoping all goes well for you. Thanks for staying in touch with us even during the tough times. Love to you both from us both! ❀

  16. Daffodils are my favorite way to welcome spring! How lovely that you still have the bunch Jeff gave you when Drew was born! How amazing! I think of you often and I amsending you heartfelt hugs xoxo

    • Thank you, Misifusa! I had forgotten that I saved them until a few years back when I happened upon Drew’s β€œBaby Book,” and they have held up very well! I am always so happy to see you here and I appreciate and return those heartfelt hugs!

  17. Mike

    Hey I forgot where I put my other comment. Daffodils here are pretty awesome and seem to sprout up randomly in fields, hills and golf courses, abandoned houses etc. Gibbs Battleground is supposed to have some 50 acres of these, now close to bloom. A gardener in Seattle challenged people to go out and plant Daffodil bulbs at random, anywhere, usually in the darkness with clandestine gardening skills. Ninja gardeners.
    For some reason I woke up with the tune–Peter, Paul, and Mary-“Where have all the flowers gone,”in my head A poingnant message still.
    Verie is up to NYC today to help Kris out while Rachel visits her mom. Is there any way to search the site so I can find my last comment? Have not made it out to the Atl Botanical garden yet- but we did make the new Coke museum with DIL Laurie – She enjoyed it much I think.
    I have never seen so many daffodils.

    • Mike, I have a comment search option, but I don’t think readers do. You could try the search button on the blog (right hand side) but I don’t know whether it searches the comments or just the posts. According to my comments dashboard, the most recent comment I received from you before this one was on 3-6-18, and began with the words “It’s coming up a cloud” which was a comment appended to the post titled “Snow helps.” If you can tell me what the comment said, I can try to look for it. Yes, the daffodils are everywhere in Atlanta and many southern cities. I think you have some great floral surprises in store this year. My son and his family love the Atlanta Botanical Garden and were members for many years. I haven’t seen the Coke museum since 1994 so it would probably be a totally different place now. Hope Verie’s trip to NYC is spared most of the complications around all the crazy winter storms hitting the northeast this year. The song you mention by Peter Paul & Mary is one I used to sing when I was a child. We had a friend who played it on the ukulele and sang it. I picked it up from her. It is a haunting song, and the words “when will they ever learn?” can apply to so many situations. Maybe the first verse about “young girls picked them, every one” has something to do with why I’m so reluctant to pick flowers when I see them growing outdoors.

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