Lea Wait, here, enjoying the amazingly warm temperatures Maine has had during the past week. (One of our friends commented that we blog a lot about weather. I guess we do. But so much of what we do here depends on weather that I guess thinking about it and its consequences is built into our DNA. But I digress.)
One of my favorite parts of spring has always been seeing daffodils appear. I’ve planted daffodils at every house (a total of four, in three states) I’ve ever owned. Having daffodils visible from every room of my home in the spring has always been on my private bucket list, and I achieved that goal a couple of years ago, to my delight. (Not to my husband’s. He loves flowers, I assure you. He doesn’t like that I believe in naturalizing; that the daffodils appear all over our lawn, and that you can’t mow down their dead leaves until they are really, truly, dead — which isn’t until close to the end of July. Which means clumps of high grasses stand messily all over our lawn until then. Ah, well. All joys have corresponding sorrows.)
Until I lived in Maine full-time I didn’t love crocuses. In most suburban towns where I lived crocuses were planted in straight little lines along front walks or in manicured gardens. I hated that. But here I decided to plant them in the lawn, as I did daffodils, and give them their freedom. It turned out they loved Maine. Now every spring I look forward to the crocuses even more than I do to daffodils, because spunky little crocuses ignore lingering snows and pop up whenever they can. They’re now blooming in full force, whereas daffodils are just beginning to bud.
Many of you probably know that in the 19th century, flowers (and trees and herbs) all had their own special meanings. Without knowing those meanings, you miss understanding a lot of symbolism built into novels, poetry or paintings created then. Some meanings we still understand easily: Weeping willows mean melancholy. A daisy is a sign of innocence. A dandelion is an oracle. (Make a wish!) A crocus, I’m happy to report, means cheerfulness. A daffodil’s promise, on the other hand, cannot be trusted. It’s a sign of deceitful hope.
Better to give your true love a red tulip. To do so is a declaration of love.
On the other hand, a cabbage in a poem or painting means profit. A buttercup means childishness. Basil stands for hatred. Give your beloved a Bachelor’s Button? Perhaps not. It stands for single blessedness. An amaryllis stands for pride. A yellow rose? Infidelity. A dried white rose? Death, preferable to loss of innocence. (A whole novel in one flower!)
And so forth. I’m glad the little crocuses popping up around my house now mean cheerfulness. That’s just what we need after any kind of winter to prepare ourselves for the daffodils and dandelions of the world to come.