March, 2011

Consider the Daffodils

Editorial Comments
by Deborah Steele Hazen

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

“That floats on high

“o’er vales and hills,

“When all at once I saw a crowd,

“A host, of golden daffodils,”

– from “Daffodils”

by William Wordsworth

For a couple of weeks during March there were two lonely daffodil buds struggling to turn yellow, but not even close to blooming, in the raised flower bed in my backyard that was created over half a century ago by my grandparents. I planted daffodil bulbs in it some 20 years ago.

Unlike my grandparents and my mother, I am not a gardener. My father passed on his black thumb to me. I love flowers, but they have to be hearty and independent to survive in my garden. Consequently, I favor perennial bulbs.

Despite my benign neglect, the daffodils and tulips in my backyard bed have done quite well in past years.

A little cluster – nothing like Wordsworth’s “host” – but cheerful nonetheless, has been blooming since mid-March at the top of the waterfall that feeds the pond in the corner of our backyard. Those bulbs  – indeed all of the plantings and landscaping in that corner of our property, including the pond – were created by our friend, the late Keith Davis of Quincy Greenhouse, who passed on to another garden a year ago this week. So, of course, they’re blooming better than the ones I planted.

Despite the long winter and the cold, wet March, crowds, even hosts, of golden daffodils are blooming elsewhere in town, and in the surrounding rural area.

When I learned late last week that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) had begun working at Woodson on preparations to replace the existing culverts under Highway 30 and the railroad with  bridges in order to improve the flow of the creek and hopefully lessen the impact of mudslides in the future, I invited my two eldest grandchildren to take a drive with me.

Because of our family’s work schedules, Madeline and Jonathan spent much of their spring vacation reading and playing computer games at The Chief office.

We drove first to Woodson where I took some pictures of ODOT personnel studying the site which is still very much impacted by the slide of December 2007, (see the photos elsewhere in this issue).

Then, with the kids’ enthusiastic agreement, I decided to take the long way back – ostensibly to take some “springtime on the dikelands” photographs, some of which are printed in this newspaper – but also to let a slow drive, some fresh air and the beauty of the countryside, slowly shedding the grayness of winter for the greenery of spring, blow the clouds of recession and worry from my mind.

Thankfully, there was hardly any traffic on the dikeland roads west of  Clatskanie that afternoon. Once I pulled over to let a couple of vehicles by, because we were stopping frequently to look at ducks and cattle, fishermen and flowers, and, most notably, a placid old sheep, resting unfenced in a grassy driveway, chewing its cud and sporting a hot pink camellia by her ear.

The kids and I had a good time speculating about whether someone had stuck the flower in the matted wool, or whether she had acquired it on her own, while grazing beneath a camellia bush. I hope it was the latter.

Passing slowly by Anundi Island, I spotted a blue heron camouflaging itself in the tall dead grass in a little ditch 50 yards or so off the road. Standing like a statue, it let me stop and take its picture through the open car window before taking a few long-legged strides then spreading its huge wings and lumbering into the air. Madeline and Jonathan loved that. They’d never seen a blue heron take flight before – a modern-day pterodactyl.

I returned to the office mentally and spiritually refreshed.

During the weekend, I avoided my computer as much as possible, and plunged into an arthritis-attack-inducing bout of spring cleaning – good for the soul and the house, if not for my aching body.

Glancing out into the still cold, wet backyard Sunday, I discovered that those two struggling daffodils in the old flower bed had finally made it into bloom.

“The slugs have probably chewed holes in them,” I thought to myself, but I ventured out through the long wet grass to see. No, the slugs hadn’t gotten them. Maybe this record-breakingly cool March has been too chilly even for the slugs.

After their long birthing process, the daffodils were perfect. Feeling a bit guilty, but convincing myself that I was saving them from the wilting rain, I picked them and a third that had rather suddenly begun to bloom.

Now, they are brightening not only our dining room table, but my mood.

It’s been a long winter. Many of us are worried and concerned, but seasons change. The rebirth of spring follows the death of winter.

And, that reminds me of a Bible verse, from the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6). The following is from the New King James Version.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

“25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

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