Friday, February 28, 2014

Daffodowndilly

Daffodowndilly
by: A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
'Winter is dead.' 


Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter, hasn't it?

Even here in the South, we've had more than our fair share of gray skies, sub-arctic temperatures, and rain falling to earth in an unnatural, solid state. In a region where any amount of snowfall is a rare treat, this winter has taught us to dread the words "frozen precipitation" This has been the year of the Polar Vortex, a climate event that sounds like it was conceived in the volcano lair of a Bond villain.

The entire North American continent is suffering from the winter blahs, but this week I spotted the light at the end of the tunnel: My daffodils bloomed.

These aren't my actual flowers. Or my actual barn. These are paid re-enactors.


I'm usually not much for spring. Typically, we get a week or two of pleasant spring temps, accompanied by bucketfuls of pollen in the air, and then we plow right on into summer. Spring is a quick pit stop on the way to the main event--heat and humidity.

But this year... man, I'm really digging the idea of spring. When I saw the daffodils in my front yard burst into their glorious yellow blooms, my heart opened right along with them. Yesterday, we woke up to yet another frost on the ground, and I feared the flowers were done for. But this morning they're nodding in the breeze, defying the lingering cold and forcing bright color onto our muted landscape of brown and gray.

When I studied abroad in France during college, I took an oral presentation course. One of our assignments was to speak about a festival in our hometowns. I'll never forget the speech given by a Swedish student. She told us about her town's annual spring festival, how everyone got together for days of music and revelry to celebrate having made it through the winter. In my area, we celebrate particular crops, like watermelons, peaches, cucumbers, peanuts... whatever a given little town produces lots of. The idea of celebrating basic survival touches on something primal and intrinsic. And after the brutal season we've endured, I think we're all due a little fun.

Spring reaches past our modern, civilized exterior to grab us right by our pagan roots. To this day, all of our spring holidays are about fertility, sex, new life, renewal. The ground thaws to accept seeds. Plants engage in passive sexual reproduction and douse our cars and our respiratory tracts with their sperm. Spring fever hits humans and other animals, granting us increases in energy and sexual appetites. The entire hemisphere (Sorry, Antipodeans, you already had your turn.) pulses with vigor and desire.

It's little wonder our ancestors welcomed spring with music and dancing and wine and fertility rites and feasting and little fuzzy bunnies and chicks. Flowers and soil and green and youth and breasts and sap and cherubs and the sun. The sun. That glorious giver of life and light. It came back. And we honor it, we thank it for keeping its promise. Every civilization throughout history has worshiped the sun. How can we not?

The sentiment... I get it.

I know winter isn't quite over for a lot of you. There's still a stretch of miserable cold and dreary, leaden skies in the coming weeks, but we're almost there. I promise. Daffodils don't lie. Hang in there. The ice is slowly melting.




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