Spring flowers are not delicate

Daffodils. Forsythia. Their names suggest freshness and delicacy. They come, tender and yellow and lovely, out of the soil or from old stalks, when the air warms up. One is tempted to think they are weak in their fragile courage. After all, doesn’t the summer heat scare them away?

This year, when the weather has been halting between extremes, this lesson has come home to me: these flowers are anything but fragile. Two days ago it was 30 degrees. I, softened by the warm weather and too many years in this temperate climate, could hardly stand the sharp wind. My winter coat was at the dry-cleaners and I had only a thin jacket to keep off the cold. A couple of hours out of doors without sunshine and I was miserable. The daffodils … they suffered too. They looked droopy, their yellow heads hung down, and I thought they were doomed. But come a little warm sun and they perked up again. They’re bright and healthy today again.

The tiny yellow forsythia blossoms, so delicate they seem to be made of butterfly wings, should be dead, too, by my logic. It’s frosted the windshield more than once since they made their appearance on those old bare stalks. And yet here they were again today, looking unfazed by the weather’s whims.

I could go on. Other people probably have known this all along. I’m sure there’s some perfectly logical, ecological explanation for all this. The flowers have adapted for this cold weather; they’re able to endure swings of temperature common to springs the world over. They have to be or they wouldn’t have survived. Yes, yes, of course, all that must be true. And yet, in some fundamental way, I mistook delicacy of beauty for delicacy of constitution. No doubt men (like me) have been doing this for endless ages. And so I register my fault.

But even more, since in the rhythm of nature I experience spring as a dawning of hope, a promise of newness after the barren winter, I take a lot of solace from those resilient blooms.

No, spring flowers are not delicate. They are as tough as an old tree. And so is their promise.

Note: I first posted this last spring on my old blog. I felt it deserved a repost here for new readers. As I repost this today, daffodils are showing their green tongues, and bud clusters have appeared on the forsythia. Winter has been stranger, with more snow than usual, but we did see some crocus flowers come out before the most recent snow. They got buried under several inches and then, once the snow melted, they recovered. They’re alive and thriving today.

This inspires me. What about you?

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