daffodils

Ya got me on a run here. After writing about my honeysuckle memories, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about daffodils.

When I was in third, fourth and fifth grades, my mom and I lived in Urbana, Illinois. Smack dab in tornado alley central Illinois. My mom was going to the university and working and we were pretty poor. In order to make some extra money and teach me a lesson in earning my own money, my mom got the idea one year to drive back home to southern Illinois, pick daffodils and bring them back to Urbana to sell them. We did this all three years we lived in Urbana.

Daffodil season in southern Illinois is in early Spring. Mid-March is prime time for the perfumed yellow (and sometimes white) flowers. We would bundle up in chilly central Illinois and drive south to where it was warmer and flowers were blooming. It was a marker of Spring.

Stores sell daffodils in either little planter pots with three or four flowers, or as small bunches wrapped in paper to take home and put in a vase. The ones that we picked grew in fields reminiscent of the uninterrupted poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz. We would drive on bumpy old gravelly back roads until we found a field. Then we would jump out and fill our baskets with the sweet-smelling flowers.

My mom taught me to not pick too many from one bunch lest we strip the flowers from that location. Pick selectively, she advised.

We would gather all day, then spend the evening with my grandparents walking through the woods and warming up next to the wood-burning fireplace while watching the sun set over the Shawnee hills.

Home.

When it was time to leave, we would wrap the flowers and pile them in the old red Fiat and drive the four hours back to Urbana. Monday morning we would take our baskets full of daffodils and sell them for .25 to students and professors on campus. People greeted us with smiles of delight. The flowers reminded them that Spring was just around the corner.

Like a lot of fragile, beautiful things, daffodils are also short-lived so we had a small window in which we could do this adventure each year.

Those simple days shared with my mom were wonderful. To this day, the daffodil remains my favorite flower. It is sunny, fragrant, delicate and graceful.

And the sad thing is that right now I can’t conjure up the smell of my most beloved flower.

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