The table decorations at a recent community dinner brought back memories of happy times of spring in the country.
In tiny cups throughout the hall were bouquets of Prairie Crocus blossoms, velvety to the touch and endearing to the heart. What person with any kind of rural background hasn’t wandered the fields in search of the first crocus blossom?
Several weeks earlier, while visiting with family, a cousin got talking about crocuses in his neck of the woods. He had photos of a white crocus, a rare development in the wild, but not so rare from commercially-produced crocus bulbs bought at gardening shops.
Certainly domesticated crocus blossoms have their own charm, but they fall short of the mark in comparison with the flowers gathered from among weeds and wild growth in a ditch or field.
In my home community, I was lucky enough that my trip in search of crocuses didn’t require much of a journey. A quick run across the gravel road in front of the house and a few steps up a bit of an incline produced the gold of the field. The purple flowers were abundant while they lasted, their blooming life being susceptible to unsavoury weather conditions.
And thus it was important to search for them while some snow still remained to hide their growth. It was almost a badge of honour to find the first bloom of the season and to rush home to present it with a flourish to the Mother of the house.
One bouquet was totally inadequate and thus several of us would grab buckets and head to nearby fields to harvest from the fields of purple. We would then try our hands at making decorative bouquets but we were too young to have any such skills. In the end we’d go house to house in the village, knock on the doors and hand some bedraggled blooms to the ladies of the house. If no one answered, the blooms would be placed on the doorstep in the hope they would be noticed.
Eventually, when the road was upgraded, the field of crocuses in proximity to the house was so heavily disturbed that nary a crocus bloomed there ever again. Progress does seem to have harmful effects on the natural beauty of the environment.
After all those years, it is still impossible not to be a bit excited to see and touch a wild crocus bloom. I sat at the dinner and wondered if anyone would notice if I walked off with a cup filled with the blooms. It seemed inappropriate to ask to take one home and it certainly would have been considered stealing if I stuffed a cup in my pocket and quickly left the building.
Rather than facing a criminal charge that would have embarrassed Housemate and other members of my family, I departed, leaving the bouquets still sitting there on the table. They looked so forlorn but I resisted, hoping the dinner organizers would carefully tend to the blooms that gave us such a wonderful memory of flowers in the country.
“When the winter ice recedes
and through the grasses showing,
straight and sharp as cutting teeth
the crocuses are growing.” — Ashley Hatchings
It is too late to go hunting for blooms this year, but that’s something to put on a bucket list for early next spring. I’d better write it down somewhere so I don’t forget.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.