Traditionally, when daffodils bloom it is a harbinger of spring. In a famous poem, William Wordsworth described a group of daffodils encountered on a walk with his sister in England’s Lake District this way:I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
I vividly recall being forced to memorize the four stanzas of this poem in elementary school. It was an easy poem to mock and an easy target for school boys to satirize. My feelings for daffodils were not as strong then as today!
Perhaps we would have been kinder to Dorothy Wordsworth’s somewhat more down-to-earth description of the flowers; this journal entry was apparently the basis for her brother’s poem:
I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing.
In any case, there’s no doubt the daffodil is a wonderful flower: early, ephemeral, glowing, and always dancing in the wind. This year I scoured the neighborhood, pruning shears in hand, and found an untended crowd of daffodils.
Once in my studio, these flowers were very cooperative—and filled the room with the wonderful odor of spring!