Here it is, the last new daffodil to open in my yard this Year of Our Lord, 2012. All the others, the Trumpets, the Large-Cupped, the Small-Cupped, the Jonquils and the Species, have given me the gift of their bloom and moved on, leaving behind only their grasslike foliage to wither, die and litter my garden beds at leisure.
I find myself a trifle melancholic at the thought of these cheery faces withdrawing to their soil homes for summer recuperation. I don't begrudge them the rest they are so well and truly due, but I do regret that my time with them is so short, my admiration of their perkiness so fleeting. I treasure daffodils above the other bulbs here in the Flint Hills, for only they are strong enough to survive the prairie unassisted. Tulips live short lives and constantly need replenishment. Crocus peek above the brown buffalo grasses but are instantly whipped to shreds by the winds. Scilla provide me with calm induced by their sky-blue presence, but they lie too low to the ground to impress visitors, and they require the extra moisture of a mulched garden bed to flourish. The daffodils alone endure.
Daffodils harken me to Spring with their jovial yellows and oranges and creams, impervious to late freezes and unappetizing to deer. They laugh at the winds of Spring, keeping perfect form and color through rain and storm. They carry the hope of the prairie gardeners, giving form to our long Winter expectations and filling the promises of our optimism.
As they leave us, plunging head-long into hibernation away from the harsh rays of Summer, the memory of their friendship stays behind in the gardener's heart, a kernel of Spring locked away to tide us through the next winter. The daffodils are gone, but they've promised to return with the next warming soil. And we garden on madly alone, through irises and roses and daylilys, mums and grasses and asters. Waiting all the while for the next perfect daffodil to fill the promise of the resurrection of Spring.