Yesterday evening I knelt by the ground purring, "There you are, my sweet little babies! You sweet little things, you! You are here!"
No, I'm not an old spinster cooing to her twenty beloved cats as they slink about her feet. I was petting daffodil buds.
Ana joined in the the petting and the purring, and Berto said in exasperation, "Oh, come on! Now you're teaching her to do that?"
But they really were so lovely. And soft. New, too-their velvety green buds only recently shot up from the earth. Anyway, at first I didn't see them when I went looking, so my joy was intensified when I scraped away the thatch of dry bermuda grass and found them less than two inches from the ground.
They will grow quickly and bloom soon, the first harbingers of warmer weather to come - which doesn't mean much where I live, granted, but its the memories I relish! - yes, the associations with a relatively small plot of land in Middle Tennessee.
On that plot of land in Tennessee, my childhood home, the beautiful crowns of bright yellow would appear by the hundreds in the yard beneath the Walnut trees in February and March. If one felt like taking a chilly stroll by the creek, they were there, too, between the spring and the main stream. For a little girl this, the earth's first offering of flowers for the year, held pure joy.
My sister Annie and I would pick dozens of daffodils and bring them inside the house to perch on the window sills, shelves and tables in all manner of jars and vases. It was sunshine for our home before real spring had even yet arrived. And when they had languished, both in their vases and out in the lawn and our immediate world, we had the knowledge that their cousins would shortly follow all through the warmer months - the tiger lilys by the culvert near the creek, the regal irises at the curve of the driveway, the black-eyed susans down the whole length of the lane and the honeysuckle languidly draping the fence near the field gate. I can see them all and smell them all still. It is very easy to recall the joy the sight of these beautiful flowers gave me as a little girl.
That is why I was purring to my daffodil buds entrenched in the harsh desert soil of my backyard. I am so grateful each year to greet them in this climate. to recapture the joy they instilled in me long ago with every new year. Alas, I believe they are the only thing I have planted around my home that has survived. And that is truly a gift of nature, for when I first put them in the ground, it was done on a lark, really, because they appeared to be dead. It is now their third year of rebirth.
This year, I will plant more. Many more. In a small way I will try to reproduce that beautiful southern yard bursting with brilliant yellow in the year's infancy. Imagine all the sweet little velvety buds of green each January! And I have no doubt I will purr to them all.