Wednesday, 10 April 2013

the scent of daffodils

In the dim brown quiet of November, I plant close on three hundred daffodil bulbs in the long flowerbeds of my mother's front garden, sinking the point of the trowel deep into the stubborn, flinty soil, placing each paper jacketed bulb carefully into a funnel of damp earth at trowel's depth, trying for the engineer's neatness with which my father  had always planted them, yet straying eccentrically from the mathematical regularity which he attained.

I remember my father, crouched over the  chill ground as I crouch now, handling the plump, dry, rustling bulbs tenderly, working with a rhythm acquired over a life time of planting bulbs, bright annuals, fragrant wallflowers, elegant foxgloves, reassuringly steady. It is only when he stands, pausing from his labours, that one recognises the weariness of old age, the reluctance of his limbs to perform the task he has set for them, and only then that a shaft of disquiet penetrates one's mind, hitherto lulled into security by the easy cadence of his actions.

I find that I am suddenly blinded by the tears called forth by my remembrance, scalding tears  that fall upon my hands, and cause me to cease in my endeavour, overwhelmed by an intensity of grief, muddied, chilled, exhausted.

Months later, the daffodils stand tall and brilliant in the long flowerbeds, legions of golden trumpeters proclaiming the arrival of the yellow season in all it's cool glory.When I come again to visit, my mother fills a vase with them, and places it in my room, where at night their cold, honeyed scent  perfumes the air, recalls to mind the image of my father, meticulous, stoop shouldered  over the dank, leaf littered soil of Autumn, entrusting the delicate globes of the bulbs to the darkness below ground, confident that with theearth's turning their nascent brilliance would come as a benediction and a vital affirmation of the cycle by which we all are bound.

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