As many celebrate Easter this weekend, and others simply enjoy a long weekend, we are likely to be all noticing our surrounding landscapes are awash with groups of happily nodding yellow trumpets (smiling in spite of a few early April showers!). With this in mind, it seemed fitting to share this wonderful story that I read today, by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards.
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day–and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.
“I will come next Tuesday”, I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the long journey which became more hazardous through the mountain highway as the tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds and the narrowing and winding road was completely covered with a wet, grey blanket of fog.
When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!”
My daughter smiled calmly,” We drive in this all the time, Mother.” “Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears–and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.
“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they’ve finished repairing the engine,” she answered. “How far will we have to drive?” I asked cautiously. “Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said cheerfully.
So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. “I’ll drive,” Carolyn offered. “I’m used to this.” We got into the car, and she began driving.
In a few minutes, I was aware that we were heading over the top of the mountain. “Where are we going?” I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. “We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”
“Carolyn,” I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, “please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather.”
“It’s all right, Mother,” She replied with a knowing grin. “I know what I’m doing. I promise you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden.” We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.
It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-coloured variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers and more than thirty-five varieties in the vast display.
In the centre of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificence enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note — above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the colour of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colours are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.
It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountaintop.
“But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me — even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Who?” I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, “And how, and why, and when?”
“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.
We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio, we saw a poster. ” Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
There it was. The Daffodil Principle.
For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, all those years before, had begun — one bulb at a time — to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts — simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.
Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time — often just one baby-step at a time- and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.
When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
“Carolyn,” I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendours we had seen, “it’s as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for all those years. One bulb at a time! And that’s the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth!
All, just one bulb at a time.”
The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”
My wise daughter summed up the message of the day in her direct way. “Start today,” she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!
It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson, a celebration instead of a cause for regret, is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”
Why wait until you get a job? Until you get a better job? Until you retire?
Why wait until you buy a house? Or until your mortgage is paid?
Why wait until you have children? Until they go to school? Until they leave school? Until they leave home?
Why wait until you get married? Until you divorce?
Until Summer? Until Autumn? Until Winter? Until Spring?
The truth is that there is never a ‘right time’; your life will always be full of challenges. And there is no better time than right now to be happy and to live your one and only live, fully.
Make a commitment to your goal by taking one action every day.
What can you start today?