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.
Day after day of dour February weather makes me sullen and cross. I hardly realize it’s happening to me—winter-loving soul that I am!—until the sun bursts out unexpectedly and I feel a corresponding lift in my spirits as real as if a physical weight had been removed.
One morning last week found me mully-grubbing through the tasks of the day, plodding along under the burden of a bad mood (and perhaps too much Valentine’s chocolate? ;)). I put off feeding the chickens till it warmed up a bit, but when I stepped out of the kitchen door around ten or so I was taken aback. The sun had appeared, unannounced, as it were. There was a genuine breath of Spring in the wind, and the sparkling air was full of birdsong. I wandered about in the yard rather dreamily, peeking at my sleeping flower beds and budding fruit trees, feeling merrier by the minute. It was as if the glad light all around was laughing at my bad mood, the breeze banishing my low spirits as effectually as it had the morning clouds.
As I was gathering the eggs a sound like no other caught my ear. Above the cackling of the hens and the noisy caws of a tree-full of crows nearby (the ‘ravens of unresting thought’?) I picked out the shrill cadence of a faraway flock of migrating sand hill cranes. Anyone who has ever heard that almost other-worldly cry will never forget it—so mournful, and yet brimming with hope and change and expectation. I never saw them, but I knew they were there, making their arduous way north. And that was all I needed.
Standing there by the hen house, basket in hand, I scanned the woods below with new eyes. There the hillside sweeps down to the creek and back up again to an old home place buried under wisteria and ivy and visible from this vantage point only during the barren season of winter. Amid the few remaining foundation blocks I spied a sunny plot of yellow and my heart leapt up. My own ‘host of golden daffodils’, planted long ago by some unknown hand and naturalized over the years, unseen, un-regarded amid the ruins of a once-loved house. So plucky and brave, blooming there alone just as radiantly as any showcase at the Botanical Gardens.
As soon as I had finished with the girls I made my way through the woods and picked an armful, rejoicing in this sudden gift of beauty in the midst of an ordinary Wednesday morning. I couldn’t help but feel, as I sat among the flowers, that God had sent me those cranes, that teasing wind, the jonquils, just to remind me how blessed I am. And just to say that He loves me.
When we are oppressed by winter’s hold, dreaming of a Spring whether literal or figurative, it helps to bear in mind that cranes are beginning to migrate somewhere and that flowers are blooming even now in sunny patches in the woods. And that the One Who is orchestrating such unseen miracles is atwork causing Life to stir beneath the surface of our barrenness and in the darkness of our uncertainties.
“It is always safe to dream of spring.
For it is sure to come; and if it be not
just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely
sweeter.” Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Story Girl
“Behold, I will do a new thing! Even now it shall spring forth…” Isaiah 43: 19
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth, 1804