A few weeks ago, a friend stopped by with an oversized paper bag from a popular neighborhood florist, the contents of which had come undone. Deconstructed it contained: soil, a small black plastic flower pot and some bulbs that resembled scallions. My thoughtful friend shared that it would be enjoyable to ‘nurture’ something. Little does she know that plant life on display in my apartment is green but not alive. As a person of authenticity it is with some self-reproach and a preference not to employ that overused four letter word, that said plants are excellent imitations. (The word is fake in case you were wondering.)
Thanking my friend whilst escorting her out, I hastily scooped the soil back into its home, and haphazardly placed the bulbs on top of the soil. Not sure where to place this disheveled looking pot, I plonked it on the balcony ledge completely out of my vision. At some point, the morning after an overnight storm, I noticed soil strewn all over my balcony floor. I deduced that mighty winds had knocked this flimsy pot off its ledge and once again its contents had scattered.
Slightly irritated that I needed to repeat the same exercise, I made a mental note to stop at the florist to request they repot the bulbs in a way I certainly couldn’t, in other words correctly. Do you think I went? I cannot blame lockdown for not going. I blame my distracted self for neglecting these little bulbs. Finally, at least a few weeks later, I took action.
Why you may ask? Only because I noticed a small closed bud with just a hint of color appearing from the scallion-like stem. How could I not notice when I had ignored these bulbs for weeks on end with not even so much as watering them, let alone offering some tenderness. I was witnessing a miracle. Consulting with my dad via face time, he coached me on what may be common sense to some. He cautioned me to make sure that a larger pot contained holes for drainage.
Who has time for things like this? I wondered to myself. Yes, sane people, who actually smell the roses. Don’t get me wrong, I adore being outside in nature but getting my hands dirty in soil – um, not such a tactile person. The appearance of the small yellow bud had such an effect on me that the next morning I retrieved some small square vases. After transferring the remaining soil into the vases, I did my best to insert the bulbs with a little more intention, all the while acutely aware that there was nowhere for the water to drain. Unbeknownst to me a fair amount of soil and fertilizer landed up in my kitchen sink and slid down the drain before I could retrieve it. “Oh gosh,” I said to myself, “I hope nothing will start growing in the pipes and block the drains.” I now have four vases perched at my desk, while I keep a watchful eye on them.
Who knew how thrilling it could be to see buds develop? These little bulbs began taking on their own personality. The first one is extremely left leaning. The second has grown tall but the flower part of it is flopping over. The third one has a just a hint of a bud and the fourth one ain’t looking so good. I couldn’t even remember the name of this flower as I had tossed the little written explanation tag that came with it. My friend was right. At first, I was somewhat exasperated that I would have to take care of some odd looking bulbs. I neglected them as if they were sad beggars, undeserving of my time and compassion, unworthy of eye contact nor any acknowledgment of their presence.
Yet, these bulbs, after being left out in the cold, evicted from their home not once, but twice, surviving on fresh air, and a few rain drops still managed to flower! Thank you to my green thumbed friend for teaching me one of life’s most valuable lessons – all living things, whether humans, animals, plants or any other organism are innately resilient. No matter the hardships thrust upon us, resources to survive abound, – we just have to notice them.
I had given a few minutes of my full attention to the bulbs. Since then, I am happy to report that my bulbs and I have really bonded. They offer me an unexpected sense of glee and fulfillment. I even smile when I glance at them.
I had witnessed the difference between surviving and thriving. With a deep sigh, I realized that the universal adage ‘it’s never too late’ applies to anything. Simply by giving, I received the best gift of all.
P.S. I subsequently discovered that these flowers are called Narcissuses. I prefer the more generic term – daffodils – sounds less narcissistic.