Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crocus & Smilax

Thirty crocus, eighteen tulips and two bearded Iris (I know they should be planted in odds, but I ran out of dirt): that is what I planted in my tiny concrete garden this weekend. Only two days in and I'm already looking expectantly; hoping to catch at just the right moment, a bud bursting through the nutrient depleted soil with festive green shoots and an emergence of springtime joy. I guess I am proud. After all, I dug a hole and plopped them in.

But the Crocuses are what I am excited about the most... They are the smallest of the bulbs - not much bigger than my thumb nail; enchantingly simple and lovely. Their carefree petals and small stature is what implored me to rescue them from the bargain bin at The Home Depot. They aren't as elegant and tightly-bound as the tulips or as dramatic as the Iris'. They are very not put-together. Something I fear about myself, but admire in others.

According to legend, young Crocus was a shepherd boy with a fine and noble spirit. He fell deeply in love with the lovely nymph, Smilax. Being impressed with the depth of his devotion, the gods granted him immortality and turned him in to a flower. They also transformed Smilax into an evergreen, the yew, to ensure the two would be always together.

I love a good legend to back-up my natural inclination at anthropomorphizing (something the Greeks mastered as well). When I read this story, it all made sense. And why wouldn't it? Two lovers combined for all eternity, perfectly complimenting each others uniqueness, subtly calling me, a fellow romantic, to plant them in a garden where they can just 'be.' This must be what Edward Cullen feels like every time he saves Bella.

Apparently I'm not the only fanciful person to be captivated by the story of this simple little flower (which, thanks to my imagination, I will no longer see as a flower but instead as two lovers in an embrace - all over my garden). A poem by Frances E.W. Harper called The Crocuses poignantly captures the essence of the flower. It would be a shame not to share.

In the everlasting arms
Mid life’s dangers and alarms
Let calm trust your spirit fill;
Know He’s God, and then be still.”
Trustingly I raised my head
Hearing what the atom said;
Knowing man is greater far
Than the brightest sun or star.
They heard the South wind sighing
A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
To see them all again.
While the snow-drops still were sleeping
Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
Within the dark, cold clod.
Not a daffodil nor daisy
Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
Peeped timid from its bed;
Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.
And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air
And scattered o’er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.
Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.
First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.
And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly ’neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.
I hope you each plant something lovely today - a flower, an idea, a ridiculous story.



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