The Daffodil Principle

> 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 length of Route 91, continued on I-215,
> and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the
> mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed
> in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road
> was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I
> slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow
> and winding toward the top of the mountain. As I executed
> the hazardous turns at a snail's pace, I was praying to reach
> the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived.
> 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 back on the Rim-of-
> the-World road heading over the top of the mountain. "Where
> are we going?" I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the
> mountain road in the fog. "This isn't the way to the garage!"
> "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."
> And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a
> minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge
> and she was kidnapping me! I couldn't believe it. Like it or
> not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils,
> driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist wrapped
> mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb. I
> muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned
> onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak
> filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted
> a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with
> clouds.
> We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone
> church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we
> could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San
> Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of
> elephants. Far below us the fog shrouded valleys, hills, and
> flatlands stretched away to the desert. On the far side of
> the church I saw a pine needle covered path, with towering
> evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, hand
> lettered sign "Daffodil Garden."
> We each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the
> path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away
> from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and
> valleys, like a deeply creased skirt. Live oaks, mountain
> laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in
> the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and
> monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the
> path, and I looked up and gasped.
> Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and
> completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken
> a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak
> and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every
> rise. Even in the mist filled air, the mountainside was
> radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils.
> The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great
> ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon
> pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different colored
> variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty five
> varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a
> group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with
> its own unique hue. In the center 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 color of
> sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the
> air, their colors 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 mountain top. Five
> acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of
> my questions were answered.) "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, more than thirty five years before, had begun
> one bulb at a time to bring her vision of beauty and joy to
> an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time. 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. The principle her daffodil garden
> taught is one of the greatest principle of celebration:
> learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a
> time, often just one baby step at a time, 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 splendors 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 more than thirty 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!
> And 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 thirty five 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 put the car into gear and summed up the
> message of the day in her direct way. "Start tomorrow," she
> said with the same knowing smiles 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 tomorrow?"
> Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

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