Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Daffodils; or, a defence of the countryside

As I wait for the Charity Furniture Project to come pick up some of the remnants of our life -- now lovingly "stored" in the garage -- I ponder the suitability vs. desirability of various "waiting" projects. Although my children have begged me to buy some food, clearly I cannot leave the house and risk missing the appointment that will rid me of the last of our Ikea bookshelves, the bedside tables which have marks dating back to 1991, or the wicker Peacock chairs that were never comfortable to sit on in Trinidad and really don't work with our English Barn decor.

Hmmmm. . . Housework? (best take a moderate approach; I've already unloaded the dishwasher) Laundry? (better not; the washing machine is about to pack up and the dryer makes a horrible sound) Check email? (already done it, and none of my American friends will be writing at 5 am) Blogging? Now that's a good idea!

It occurred to me, as I was doing the school run this morning, that I was bit harsh on the dear old English countryside in my inaugural blog. The day dawned clean and fresh; and frankly, it is easier to feel mentally and emotionally balanced when the sky is blue and there are fluffy Turneresque clouds. It's that gray gloom that sets my teeth on edge as I heave the Volvo onto the muddy verge in order to let another lorry or Land Rover inch by.

But in the sunshine, the brilliantly yellow daffodils hold forth and remind me of something that I really love about England: the flowers! Bulb flowers have so many good qualities: they promise spring, just when you are sick to the teeth of bare-branched winter; they appear year after year, despite neglect; and they move around a bit, so that you never know quite where they will pop up. Last spring I planted narcissus bulbs in some old wooden buckets, and they bloomed gorgeously . . . when we were in Texas for the Easter holiday. During the summer, I planted on top of them with something purple (I can't recall the name) and really forgot about my hibernating narcissi. Rather suddenly, it seemed to me, they have popped out again . . . rewarding me, rather undeservingly, for my minimal gardening skills.

Narcissus (baby daffodils is the correct, ahem, botanical term)
Blooming in February; possible evidence of global warming?

I read somewhere that when Wordworth wrote these immortal lines:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

it was well into April. Now: there are late-blooming daffodils, and the Lake District is considerably farther north than West Berkshire. However, early February daffodils are a speck early and probably incontrovertible evidence of global warning. When you are a warm-blooded Texan living in England, it is difficult to remember that warmer winters are a bad thing.

As with all things, there are going to be winners and losers with the advance of warmer temperatures. Apparently the Maldives are going to be one of the first places to go underwater; when presented with this fact, my unromantic husband (who can clearly not take a hint) unemotionally declared that "there wasn't much there already." (Reminds me of Gertrude Stein: There is no there there.) The more northern reaches of Canada, on the other hand, can only benefit from a bit of snow-melting.
I know that some of you are mired -- quite happily -- in snow at the moment. But as for me, it is bliss to drive through the countryside (soundtrack of Vaughn Williams' Lark Ascending) admiring the "host of golden daffodils" which promise spring.

1 comment:

Cláudia said...

I found your blog a month ago. I can't even remember how many paths or which paths lead me to your desk. But I'm amazed at the way you put your words and images to tell us a little about your life.
Being a Brazilian who has lived in England once (from 1991 to 1995), I am quite apart from your experience in the British Isles. But what I do know is that the gray color can turn me into a horrible person... But - heya! the Daffodils are truly the most beautiful thing that can happen after so many months of cold and colorless life.
I also remember that before the daffodils came a small, wild, crop. White petals and yellow centre. My son, who arrived in England when he was 8 months old, usually went crazy about those little bright specks in the grass. Sorry if my words or sintax don't sound proprer English. It has been a long time since then...