Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 21, 2002

Spring has sprung (or my crocuses didn't croak)

My crocuses finally bloomed last week. I've been watching them since early last month. Before one of our snows in February, I walked out by the mailbox and saw about an inch of green with just a hint of yellow coming up through the ground. Then the snow buried the little shoots. The next time I saw them, they were frozen to the ground. The next time, I found remnants of little yellow flowers in our driveway. My husband evidently ran over them. He DID warn me, after all, not to plant anything too close to the road or the drive.

Early last week, when it was close to 70 and the breeze definitely felt like spring, the crocuses opened their yellow blossoms completely. Next to them, the daffodils, tulips, irises, peonies and day lilies are peeking up through the cyprus mulch. In one of my flower beds, a tulip coming up through the ground speared a dry, curled oak leaf right through the middle as if to say, "Take that, winter!"

I dug up most of my bulbs from our family's farm in Marion County and planted them around our yard, carefully avoiding open spots where my husband would likely mow them down. He doesn't have much patience for flower beds.

Last October, my parents and I visited the farm again to gather more bulbs so Mom could plant some at their home in Manhattan and I could add to my collection.

At the farm, my Mom had planted tulips and daffodils in circles around the trees near their house. A generation before that, my paternal grandparents had planted irises, peonies and day lilies near the old windmill and in a big bed in the front yard. It's possible that some of the bulbs were even planted by my great-grandparents, although I don't have the family stories to back that up.

I don't have much of a green thumb. That's why I like the old-fashioned perennials that come up each year without much effort on my part. There is some method to my madness, though. I planted the bulbs around our mailbox and in our backyard garden in bunches so that I'll have blooms from February or March through June and into the fall if the mums come back up. I even gathered hundreds of seeds from the hollyhocks that my grandparents had planted and transplanted them here. One puny little burgundy hollyhock came up a couple of years ago, and it is getting stronger each year. Now, if I can just protect it from my husband!

While I like the hardiness of these plants which come up year after year - whether the winter is cold or the summer is dry - there is more to it than just having pretty flowers. I like the way they symbolize the transition from one generation of my family to the next.

Spring has officially arrived.

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