Today, Maggie woke me in the pre-dawn shadows, and so I held her and watched the morning tiptoe to the windows, revealing in various shades of gray the quiet street we live on, our pebbled driveway, the neglected orange tree, and the perky daffodils, their faces upturned, waiting for the sun’s arrival.
Upon taking in their cheerful faces, bobbing in the gusting winds, my brain stumbled, clutching desperately at the first traces of caffeine wafting from my steaming mug. Buttercups? In early March?
And for a moment I was transported to the porches of my childhood, Uncle Charlie’s wicker rocker chairs framing the “Blackstone Farms, est. 1977” sign, and Grandma Betty’s metal glider, its feet tap-tap-tapping away on the concrete, as we admired the endless flowers in the yard.
Ah, spring in the South. It shows up for a few days in February, for a long weekend or two in early March, and is generally in full on, redbud-dogwood-Bradford-pear bloom by Easter. Spring in the South does not look back, and it is etched into the Farmer’s Almanac of my psyche.
As a result, only once each year do I question the all consuming affection and need I harbor for Montana, my adopted home. Alas, on the 49th parallel, spring is only seen on the cover of the J.Crew catalogue well into May. And even then, what I grew up knowing as “spring” never lasts long.
Each February, I step outside to listen for the robins and hear only the screaming wind, throwing snow against the walls of the Warehome, erasing the driveway, closing the roads with its whiteout power and thwarting my UPS deliveries of J.Crew goodies designed to import spring into my life, and soothe my troubled psyche.
In March, I look for patches of delicate green life, and see only the endless expanses of colorless snow, holding the moisture key to beekeeping, but blotting out any shades of color that might indicate spring.
And so these California daffodils delight me even as they confuse me. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I’d become to a spring-less Montana until I sleepily gazed upon them this morning and thought for a moment that I was back home. But I enjoyed the confusion, the reminder that a well loved childhood leaves an indelible calendar on the soul, and of the enormous responsibilities we owe to Maggie: a happy childhood, one that she will be reminded of by innocuous daffodils when she is past thirty, and navigating a new place in her life.
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