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a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Daffodil Principle

(a story shared at godvine.com)

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must
come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but
it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.
"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on
... her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I
drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged
and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils,
Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is
nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to
see bad enough to drive another inch!"
My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time,
"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then
I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car."
"How far will we have to drive?"
"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."
After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This
isn't the way to the garage!"
"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of
the daffodils."
"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself
if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and
I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a
hand-lettered sign that said, "Daffodil Garden."
We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed
Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I
looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It
looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured
it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted
in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep
orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter
yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so
that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique
hue. There were five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.
"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the
property. That's her home."
Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house that looked small and
modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You
Are Asking" was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one."50,000 bulbs," it read. The
second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two
feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a
life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never
met, who, more than forty years before, had begun ~ one bulb at a
time ~ to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain
top. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had
changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world
in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable
(indescribable) magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest
principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our
goals and desires one step at a time ~ often just one baby-step at
a time ~ and learning to love the doing, learning to use the
accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with
small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can
accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I
have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five
or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time'
through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct
way. "Start tomorrow," she said.
It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way
to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for
regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"
Never to late to start our own garden...

Our last look at the waste not, want not principle: don't waste today's or tomorrow's potential stewing over the reach of yesterday's efforts.

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