(Photo taken by Tammy Brewer Parker, "The Old Parker Homestead" in Anson County, NC.)
Another gray day in late February. Would this winter never end? I zip my jacket and pull my knit cap down over my ears as I head outside for a walk.
Brown leaves crunch beneath my feet. A deer bounds into the woods, forewarned by my noisy footsteps. I see the white flag of her tail as she disappears amidst the trees. I peered into the woods where she vanished, straining to catch one more glimpse of her but her camouflage was too good.
However, a brilliant flash of golden yellow catches my eyes. Could it be? Yes! In a small clearing I see beautiful yellow daffodils, nodding in the breeze! I smiled at the sight of them – a true sign of spring.
Looking closer, I realize this small clearing in the trees was once a home place. A crumbling pile of stones was once a chimney; a few rotting boards were all that was left of the structure itself. A smooth broad stone must have been the front step. Someone long ago planted those daffodil bulbs on either side of that step.
I stand still for a moment, losing myself in my imagination. I hear children of another time, laughing and playing tag among the trees. A chicken or two scratch in the yard, mindful of the scrawny yellow cat lying on the porch. Woodsmoke curls from the top of the chimney, giving assurance that inside the house it was warm as toast. In my mind’s eye, I see a woman much like myself. She kneels by that front step and digs a hole on either side. Reaching into her apron pocket, she pulls out a couple of bulbs. She places them gently into the holes. I watch as she covers them over, then brushes the dirt off of her hands as she rises. She smiles as she thinks of the pretty golden flowers that will bring a promise of spring when they bloom. The brisk wind blows; she calls to the children and they all go inside. But before she closes the door, I could swear she waves to me.
The house and family fade away as my mind returns to the present time. Years pass, the people and their landmarks have long disappeared. Yet the daffodils still bloom every spring. They nod their glorious heads at me, as if to tell me they know a Divine Secret mere mortals like me cannot grasp. Time passes, people come and go, seasons change, things we see as important one day turn to dust. Yet even on a cold gray February day, there is a promise of springtime deep within the earth that causes the daffodils to poke their stems toward the sun, their blossoms unfurling year after year, reminding a time traveler like me that they’ll be heralding spring long after I, too, have turned to dust.