Daffodil Ministry

About thirty years ago I attended Quaker meetings in Leeds. Every springtime there was one elderly member who could be relied upon to rise to offer ministry which began, ” I was walking to Meeting today and saw the daffodils…” Etc. etc. In our household this annual event became known as Elderly Member’s Daffodil Ministry Sunday. It marked the official opening of springtime in Yorkshire, which can be cold, dreary, and arrive late.

Where we live now in Ireland within both Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and the Atlantic Area, we enjoy the balmier effects of the Gulf Stream. Even so, when we first moved here an old farmer neighbour told me there was a proverb, “A fair February crushes the rest of the year.” This piece of folklore was followed by the comment of a colleague (who was also a farmer’s wife) -” I don’t know that the old signs hold anymore.” Which is sort of code for the effects of climate change, I think.

We have enjoyed a fair February this year. The bulbs are out in the pots and raised bed for weeks now. The daffodils I planted sixteen years ago are also blooming now along the laneside. So, too, are they at the back of the house. At any rate I am not wandering lonely as a cloud when a daffodil turns up in my poetry practice.

 Daffodil Ministry

A fair February crushes the rest of the year
...but who can say
the old signs still hold.

Daffodils are remarkably resilient.
Narcissi, too. Seeing as they
only have  to look out for themselves.

But if the cold should descend again?
What of the birds?
Their early pairing, nest building...

It's creatures of the earth sold out because
we - you and me - feel so empty
we have made sordid landfill of our hordes.

Meanwhile, the grape hyacinth and croci unfold
their petals. The seasons shall survive
even when the old signs do not hold.

Meanwhile, the cool morning air, sun washed,
blows across the daffodil's face, shaking her awake.
The oldest - eternal - story every told.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Anthony Young on Unsplash


Spring Flow

Irrefutably, it is springtime. At least in our far corner of West Cavan Spring has arrived. The narcissi Tete a tete have flowered, not just in the pots, but out in sheltered parts of the garden. The first croci and hydrangea are starting to bloom. Of the wild flowers, the bold aconite has been out for a couple of weeks, outfacing the snow and frost at Brigid’s Day. The hellebores are in flower. The first of the primroses are flowering, too, again in a sheltered corner of the garden.

Yesterday was the first of what my husband terms ‘laundry days!’ Mostly sunny, mild,and with a breeze that promises it will dry your washing if you hang it on the line outdoors. Given the humidity in Ireland, outdoor drying is something of an art and whim of nature. Yesterday was the first time in many months that I chanced pegging out washing on the line.

We have now had the official opening of spring in my part of Ireland. Which happens to be a stunningly beautiful area. So much so that UNESCO recognises its significant natural and built heritage by naming it as a geopark. I live in a geopark community on the first village on the River Shannon after it pokes its head out from underground caverns and begins to flow towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Poetry practice may have an element of spring fever to it today. But indulge me a little as I have been up since dawn’s earliest suggestion of light. The dawn over the Playbank was a full on kiss this morning.


Peachy rose gold threads
brocading the light
coming up over the Playbank.

The throated notes of waking up song
Is it a robin?
I do not know for sure.

The trickle of the flow-
ditch, spring, stream to out from, feed in
the River Shannon down below.

A clear light. A song's note.
A rise in bloodheat.

The snow on the Playbank
melted ages ago,
a cataract tear

flowing down the drumlins
sculpting  the karst below over ages
with the seasons' flow.