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Planting hope

This week I planted daffodils. There’s nothing remarkable about this, although some might question why I waited to dig holes in the ground until the snow started to fall. Or why, in mid-November, I ordered 250 daffodil bulbs. (Simple answer: my gardening obsession got to me and the 100 bulb bags were on sale.)

Planting daffodils is one of the simplest gardening tasks: dig a trench six inches deep, insert a few bulbs right side up, and fill it with soil. Repeat.

Some gardeners prefer to measure their beds and insert bulbs into calculated rows, but they’re not me. For one, I prefer randomness, and two, the daffodils themselves do not like being ordered to line up. They jump ship all the time and end up in parts of the property where I would never have planted them.

I believe this is because either:

1) daffodils actually have small legs, which we humans cannot see.
2) we have landscaper rodents who like to redesign the property.

Part of the joy of daffodils is never being sure where they might pop up from year to year.

Not narcissistic

Daffodil is the common name for the genus narcissus, named after the god who fell in love with his reflection while gazing into a stream. That word has become synonymous with egotism, which makes it a weird choice for a flower that seems delightfully humble.

The daffodil requires little care, knows how to wait, plays well in groups, bows its head under winter snow, and fades back after blooming to let other flowers star in the garden.

According to the myth, a narcissus flower was said to have been found along the stream bed after the god Narcissus finally tired of looking at himself and died.

Planting hope

Midway through my planting expedition, as traces of snow began to fall, I saw what I was really doing: cultivating hope. I was setting out bulbs at a time when the earth felt most dreary, cold, and dank so that a transformation could occur underground and beauty could surface in early spring.

Which became the perfect metaphor for what I needed to do: plant hope. 

As I put each little carrier of hope into the earth, I asked myself:

  • What can I place underground and let grow undisturbed in my inner soil?
  • What capacities can I strengthen when life feels gloomy that I may need later?
  • What can I plant as a gift for the future, whether or not I will be around to see it blossom?

What to seed

In this season, I plant with:

A smile I offer
An idea I develop
A project I take on
A contribution I give
A meal I make for others
A friendship I start
A call I intuitively know to make
A book I write

It may take months to see what emerges, if anything does at all.

But maybe that’s not why I am out in the snow.

I plant because it helps me, on this day, to bring the light of possibility into the darkness.

As the snow continues to fall, I have only 75 bulbs left to put in the ground.

When it feels dark, much can grow. What will you plant this season?

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