Sometimes I miss the daffodils. Not miss them as in, "Why don’t they write?" (that's my dad's favorite quote from Dances with Wolves. I try to slip it into casual conversation when I can. Nobody ever gets it, so I laugh all by myself. Like now). No, I literally miss them, as in, didn’t notice that they pushed their determined emerald leaves up out of the cold, sleeping earth, shot a beautiful straight stem skyward, and burst forth with a ruffly, buttery yellow, utterly clean and perfectly formed bloom.
It’s kind of not my fault. The guy who planted them years ago put them on the backside of the house, where I seldom wander. Also, if a single raindrop falls on one of them, they melodramatically collapse under the ridiculous weight of it and lay on the ground sideways to bloom. They still bloom, but unless you have your nose at ground level you might not notice.
We actually managed to go outside Saturday and scrape together a few hundred branches that had distributed themselves around the property after the last big snowstorm (ha ha, big for us. Hey, a foot of snow is a lot if you’re expecting two inches). I didn't do much, as breathing is still hard. One round trip up the driveway with a loaded wagon was enough for me. As Natalie flitted around the yard pretending to work, she discovered that the daffodils had bloomed. I tasked her to gather any of them that had collapsed so that we could bring them in the house to enjoy.
She did, and I got my special Japanese style vase down (okay, who are we kidding? I’m too short to get it down. I called Adam, who I call “Tall Boy” when I need something that’s up high, or "Strong Boy" when I need something heavy moved, and he got it down for me. I do. I literally shout, “Tall Boy!” and he comes to my rescue. Such a good human).
I showed Nano the cool little spiky frog in the bottom of the vase that allows the blooms to stand upright, statuesque and lovely, and together we arranged them. Then I cleared off the counter, actually wiped it this time, and we admired our flowers.
And I had to focus. Just on the flowers. Because of course, the counters behind them were full of dirty dishes. As were the sinks. And the stove was messy. And don’t get me started on the nasty floor. Covid is a butt-kicker and the house is the kick-ee.
Yes, I had to focus very hard on the flowers.
Days are short. There will always be dishes to wash. I love all of you folks who always keep a clean sink. I admire you very much. You have figured out either a rhythm in your life or some boss parenting skills that I have yet to master.
I have to choose what I focus on. And in that moment it was flowers. As I did, I very literally felt a lightness come into my heart that invited the colors around me to be more lively, the fabrics and wood grain more interesting. It was like my surroundings were being put through an Instagram beauty filter.
Resolve is fickle, and I will soon forget Saturday afternoon. I always do. Why do we have to learn the same lessons again and again... and again? I should overhaul the inspired prayer they recite in AA meetings and hang it on my mirror to remind me.
"God, grant me the strength to clean the things I can,
the courage to leave the messes that aren't that important right now,
and the wisdom to focus on daffodils."