The Promise of Spring

Kathryn Wadsworth

Kathryn Wadsworth

David has already addressed the in’s and out’s of spring-blooming bulbs – those harbingers of bounty from the earth – and given us some great tips about selecting and planting them, but right now it’s fall, and autumn always has funereal overtones for me. The weather gets cranky. Clouds hide the sun and darken my days. The temperatures drop, and I shiver all too often.  I am a lover of the sun, of beaches, of slouching around in T-shirt and shorts. When leaves begin to turn and drop to the ground, revealing the skeletal structure of trees; and when bright annual flowers have disappeared; and perennial plants wilt and die back – I feel a sense of loss.
To cheer myself up, I look to the promise of what lies ahead.
Bulbs that we plant in autumn embody that promise. They are full of life. Hibernating like bears, they wait for that first hint of renewal, a slight rise in the temperature, and a few more moments of light from the sun. red tulips
Most of the bulbs we plant in North America for their spring show come from far away – the sunny shores of the Mediterranean – Turkey, Italy, Spain, and North Africa. I know these places are cold in winter. (I lived in Spain for a time). In fact, this is why bulbs need at least six weeks of cold – to mimic the conditions of their homelands. But all these places are drenched by the sun – in other words, my native habitat (despite winter cold).
I am encouraged when David renews our bulbs. He makes sure they are healthy. He selects new ones to add to the mix of flowers, vegetables, and fruit we grow each year. And he plants some in pots, “forcing” them to brighten the house in winter. Though this last sounds cruel, it is actually the garden jargon term for bringing any plant into flower when we want them to, rather than letting them flower naturally outdoors. When these forced plants flower mid-winter, they bring a bit of sun-drenched spring into our home.
tulips and gateAlready I look forward to that moment when tiny leaf-tips poke from the ground outside and peek through snow. The first signs of sunny days to come. This moment often signals the way to unexpected treasures. The tiny stamens of crocus flowers become that herb, saffron, a taste I grew quite fond while roaming those Mediterranean shores. Indeed, after witnessing the women grow the crocus– nurturing, harvesting, and drying these delicate threads of flavor – I never questioned their price again.
Even as autumn’s gloom closes around me, I feel cheered as bulbs lie dormant, waiting to proclaim the exuberance of spring.

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.