My heart wants to dance with the golden daffodils popping up everywhere. It’s as if sunshine is reflecting back to us from the ground, each bloom waving a friendly ‘Hello’ in the southerly breeze.
Growing up in central Canada, tulips dominated our spring landscapes, particularly during the month of May. This could have been due to our proximity to Ottawa, a city that annually hosts one of the world’s largest tulip festivals. My flower bed in the front of the house was full of these graceful blooms, protected from the nipping squirrels by mixing bloodmeal in with the soil.
Since moving to the Island, I’ve grown to appreciate the beauty the playful daffodils add to the greenery in my garden. They exude hope and joy and remain one of the few flowers eschewed by the deer and squirrels that wander about.
My yellow trumpeters are hybrid cousins in the Narcissus gene pool, a plant that grew naturally in ancient Greece. The name was derived from narkissos, its base word narkē, meaning a narcotic or numb sensation, attributed to the sedative effect from the alkaloids in its plants. The plant itself is poisonous which explains why our furry nomads leave them alone.
The ancient Greeks explained the origins of this charming flower in their sacred tale of Echo and Narcissus. The version of their story I’m most familiar with was actually written by a Roman poet named Ovid. He recorded the myth in Book 3 of his famous narrative poem titled Metamorphoses.
Echo was a loquacious wood nymph who lost her ability to speak, except for repeating the most recent words spoken by a person. She fell madly in love with the extremely good-looking hunter named Narcissus. What neither of them knew was that the Gods had predicted a long life for Narcissus as long as he never caught sight of himself. Alas, the two met. She embraced him. He scorned her. She felt humiliated and fled back to the trees.
The goddess Nemesis heard of Narcissus’ contempt toward all his admirers and particularly toward Echo who remained heartbroken, waning away among the lonely glens. Her retribution was to draw Narcissus to a pool of water where he immediately fell in love with his own reflection. Unable to abandon the allure of his stunning image, he eventually died by the water’s edge and turned into a gold and white flower.
What Narcissus did not know was how much joy his flower and its hybrid offspring would bring to the habitants of this world. To me, they are like town criers heralding the arrival of spring.
Oh, the astronomical spring may be a few weeks away, but the daffodils in my garden appear to know better. I’m grateful, as I’m ready to go out there and dance with the flowers.