CROCUS FIRES ARE KINDLING *

The unexpected gift proffered in his hand is a single crocus, weak and weary after the stormy night, found forlorn on the sodden lawn, its stem and spirit broken by the might of the gusty gale.

With a tiny ‘ahh’ she reaches quickly forth and gently takes hold of the stricken flower, searching out a small glass and fills it with water. She places the crocus on the windowsill and waits.

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Never a patient person she returns regularly until at last her administrations are rewarded with an admirable show, a spectacle of petals open to view, the blue purple streaks bold yet tender, the yellow stamen a glorious beacon of light, of warmth, a promise of Spring.

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‘It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.’  Charles Dickens

The brevity of life is encapsulated in that single crocus as the next day she approaches the windowsill with fluttering expectation and finds the petals serenely closed, folded across each other into a perfect form, the sunshine within hidden, the petals virtually translucent. There is only a glimmering of the purple veins of life visible upon the parchment-like veil of petals.

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By the evening the crocus clings limply to the glass surface, a striking green slime flourishing around the sad stem, the petals now shrunken and old, the straggly stem floating listlessly in the water. This particular augur of Spring decaying just as the crocuses outside are timidly reaching out from beyond the dark of the ground, their purple, yellow petals a bright sparkle to the winter still residing in the natural world. Onwards she strolls around the garden eyeing each new development, the buds on the buddleia, the daffodils tall and proud, their yellow trumpets safely ensconced in its tight wrap, the leaves of the tulips promising the red celebration later in Spring. Here, amongst the snowdrops the crocuses display shines strong. Welcome Spring!

‘I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,

If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,

If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun

And crocus fires are kindling one by one:

Sing, robin, sing;

I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.’

The First Spring Day by Christina Rossetti

* Christina Rossetti

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83 thoughts on “CROCUS FIRES ARE KINDLING *

  1. Book Club Mom says:

    Crocuses are so pretty and I was able to enjoy a few of them in our yard before the bunnies got to them. We will be ready for Spring here, Annika. We had a late winter surprise yesterday with lots of wet snow. And now a blizzard is headed our way!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Oh no, not a blizzard!! 😐 That should just not be allowed. I hope you are safe and that after this will prove to be the last of the winter hazards. I’m sorry to hear about the crocuses being eaten by the rabbits…hmm…not good. Spring is in full bloom this weekend with all the daffodils standing proud and in full bloom – rays of sunlight even at dusk!😀

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lovely post Annika. I am always fascinated by spring flowers. They are a sign of a fresh burst of life but they often suffer for it. It’s a risk poking their heads out of the earth as they have to combat sudden frosts,wind, and rain. Some don’t survive (and sometimes are rescued to be taken indoors and given the opportunity to bloom), but most do. And so Summer beckons.

    Mike

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mike, thank you for your thoughtful reflections on Spring…I had to smile at the ‘battle’ the spring flowers face and so true! This was a lucky crocus to be rescued thus and then to give so much joy an added bonus! The poppies face the toughest test when they flower as the storms and gales always seem to coincide with their blooming…and they do not rescue well, I’ve tried! Not quite summer yet although a balmy 16 degrees centigrade promised for tomorrow!!😀❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you very much, Janice – a joy to share this taste of Spring. 😀 The Dickens quote exactly describes Spring here in the UK but I wasn’t sure how true it held for America.

      • Janice says:

        Well when I did my three seasons poem I only detected fall winter and spring but that was in the afternoon when the sun was slanted — also it was an extremely cold day. Today is warmer (above zero) and I can imagine that if I stood outside when the sun is strongest I might possibly feel summer like Dickens did… but it might have to get a bit warmer to feel that :). (Farther south across the border I would guess readers could relate)

  3. reocochran says:

    I liked this special tribute to the endurance of nature and this crocus is like a testament to the “battle” of beauty versus brutal, cold elements.
    I felt the fragility of the crocus in your tender words, Annika! This was simply sweet and lovely. ❤

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Robin and I love how you see the epic ‘battle’ reflected in this post…the crocus was so tender and broken. At least it survived a bit longer indoors – luckily the ones not broken are still there, flowering during the day. A reminder how fragile we all are – depending on the conditions around us.😃❤️

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

    Annika, you render the beauty of the crocus with an acute but tender eye. Where most would venture to say what a pretty purple flower, you describe every aspect. I saw the flower blossom in your words, then sadly die.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Sharon, thank you so much for your poetic and touching comment which means so much to me. Whilst initially I thought ‘oh, a poor lovely crocus’, the more I studied it at eye level the more I could see its intricacies, beauty, fragility and also boldness. Odd how one little flower can have such a stilling calming and contemplative effect! 😃❤️

  5. restlessjo says:

    Amazing what you can learn from paying attention to the comments, Anabel 🙂 This is such a sweet piece. I love the delicacy of a crocus, with its brazen centre. And didn’t Dickens sum March up so well? 🙂 Wishing you a happy weekend!

    • Annika Perry says:

      The Dickens quote is spot on, I agree, Jo! 😀 You really have to experience the acute sudden variances in temperature to really believe this is possible. As for that ‘brazen’ (great word!) centre – I felt I almost became hypnotised looking at this…it is truly glorious. I feel lucky that the flower did break in the wind and gave me such wonderful insight into the crocus and life!😀

  6. dgkaye says:

    A most beautiful description about the life of a crocus. The photos are equally beautiful, as always Annika. And yes, oh, the saffron. 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Ahh…thank you so much, Debby. I took so many photos over a few days, in different lighting and now have a whole album devoted to this one crocus! 😀 As for the saffron, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before but have talked to family and friends since and they were equally in the dark.

  7. rod says:

    Excellent pictures of the crocus. I love these flowers, and there are many locally, but when I planted fifty a few years back squirrels dug them all up and ate them before the day was out. I wasn’t too happy about that.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Oh no, Rod – those pesky squirrels!! Grrr…They must have thought you very kind to spend all that time burying their ‘food’ for them. I can definitely see how you weren’t too happy and bet that is an understatement! Have you ever tried planting some again?

  8. maryannniemczura says:

    Loved this post and photos. We too have strong gale force winds with snow and wind chills of -13C. Not a nice day. Just yesterday it was spring and the daffodils are getting tall now. I imagine they are shivering today just as humans are. The eternal struggle between winter and spring here in Upstate New York. 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      ‘Eternal struggle’ sums it up perfectly, Mary Ann! 😀 You seem to have the same swing in weather that we do this time of year – but not down to -13C windchill. I had to smile at the thought of the shivering daffodils and I will now look at the numerous daffodils in the village green in a new light!😀 Luckily the crocuses in the garden seem to be safe so low to the ground.

      • maryannniemczura says:

        The struggle continues here with only -11F wind chill and on Saturday it will be -15 F wind chill. I walked out to frost and snow this morning even though it is sunny. The daffodils have not opened and stand like silent soldiers waiting for new orders. Your village green sounds enchanting. Weather-wise, you are ahead of us. The mood swings continue like a tug of war. Thanks for your lovely comment. ^__^

  9. Andrea Stephenson says:

    This is beautiful Annika, I love the way you make a story out of this lone crocus with its ‘stem and spirit broken’. We have crocuses just the same colour in the park at the end of the road – they’re quite determined it’s spring, though the weather isn’t quite so sure 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      You have to applaud their courage and stamina! Without the bright vibrant colours of the crocuses in the garden, it would still have that empty dull winter look – Spring is here they seem to shout and they’re just about correct! Many thanks for your lovely comment, Andrea; this is one that has been ‘buzzing’ around in my head and in the end just had to be written!😀

  10. Sunshine Jansen says:

    A glorious post in every way. We’re on the verge here — I see green shoots but no buds — but seeing this cheerful little blossom gave me a much needed infusion of hope!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much! 😀 These small signs of Spring are all about hope, I feel…the cold of winter soon over, the light and freedom of warmer days soon upon us. Hope the early Spring flowers soon bloom!

  11. JC says:

    Annika, your words are simply beautiful. I Iove the line, “the sunshine within hidden”, which can be said of many things on this earth.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Ahh…so true, JC and I love your wise spiritual observation in just those few words. I’ll toast to that sentiment and to finding many more sunshine moments! 😀😃

  12. literaryeyes says:

    I had taken another photo of a crocus today and thought about my interest, re, obsession with them this year. Maybe I just didn’t notice their beauty before, or they are more spectacular, certainly more plentiful this particular spring. The photo I took was also of a light purple and white one. The orange fire in the center is a wonder.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Glad it’s not just me who had become obsessed with crocus flowers this year, Mary! 😀 It’s the same for me as other years I’ve always taken them for granted and never studied them and their beauty closely. I think having them so handy to view inspired me a lot – and yes, wow the golden centre is a wonder – oddly enthralling and pulled me in!

  13. delphini510 says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post Annika. So poetic, spiritual and loving.
    You see the brevity and beauty of life in one single crocus as well as how
    It brings light and hope.
    What a perfectly sweet gift which you treasured.
    The quotes and pictures are just perfect, you left me feeling uplifted.
    Mirja

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mirja, thank you so much for your warm and uplifting comment – it means a lot to me to know that my words and pictures touch you so. 😀 This post was a week in mind, the thoughts, feelings mulling around until I just wanted to share my experience here…and to bring some Spring-like joy to everyone!😃❤️

  14. D. Wallace Peach says:

    This is beautiful, Annika, on so many levels. From the rescue of the little crocus to the promise of more to come. I can picture you searching your yard like a quiet sprite for those precious signs of spring – the “leaves of the tulips promising the red celebration.” Though spring is a long way off, we have a few of those early visitors too. Soon, soon. ❤

    • Annika Perry says:

      Bless you, Diana! Your comments always make me smile and reading this today I had to giggle at your description of me ‘like a quiet sprite’! 😀😃 Indeed it is almost a meditative walk around the garden as I search out signs of Spring and then small excited hooray when spotting something new. I hadn’t really seen a few primroses until the other day…alas many seem to have disappeared. Hope the warmth of Spring soon comes your way.❤️

  15. Julie Holmes, author says:

    Wonderful prose! I love crocus–the herald of spring for sure. I think they’re much prettier than tulips, at least the old-fashioned boring tulips. The newer varieties can get much fancier.

    Have a great week, Annika!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Julie, I see a battle of the plants coming up – Crocus v. Tulips!😀 I must agree with you, though…we do have tulips in the garden which are more leaves than flowers most of the time and then are so tender the mere hint of a breeze demolishes them. For a couple of years we had the jet black ones – they were unbelievable, so dark it felt like one was disappearing into the flower, the petals velvety. Wishing you a lovely weekend, Julie – hope your writing is coming along well!😀❤️

  16. balroop2013 says:

    I loved the poetic prose along with the emotion of saving the flower to see its blooming beauty…nice welcome to spring! Croci are a nature’s delight to watch! 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Balroop! 😀 I surprised myself with my emotional involvement with this flower, lovely to see so close and clearly and also felt as if trying to rescue it after the storms, to save this symbol of Spring! Oh, nature is a delight and especially now with Spring! 😀

  17. L. T. Garvin, Author says:

    Such a gorgeous flower and gorgeous writing depicting the short but magnificent burst of life and bloom from the crocus! I love many things about this glorious description but especially the subject matter: Spring and flowers. Those are probably two of my favorite things. And Christina Rossetti….she is definitely one of my favorites, fascinating poet. Thank you for this lovely snippet of Spring, Annika!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Lana! 😀😀 I’m much the same and do so enjoy Spring and watching the flowers as they first peek out of the ground, then grow taller, stronger. Crocuses (or croci – I’m sure there is a post on this alone!) and snowdrops seem so vulnerable and fragile, pulling particularly on my heartstrings. I must admit I don’t know as much of Rossetti’s poetry as I should which I now will rectify with joy! So glad to bring a bit of Spring your way! 😀💐

        • Annika Perry says:

          Lana, I finally got round to reading Goblin Market – twice! It is absolutely astonishing and not quite like any poem I’ve ever read. The language was enchanted, mesmerising…sensual, at times violent, all the time lyrical, magical. Nature was captured abundantly, overwhelming the senses. As for the story within, wow…I was engrossed, carried away by Laura’s plight, Lizzie’s fear and finall attempt to save her sister. And as for those goblins…wonderfully created and I fear them now! I fear being caught up with their wares! Being a Victorian poet I always imagined her work would be ‘safe’ and within convention – how wrong was I! This iis just magnificent. Thank you so much for introducing her to me, I’ll read more of her work now. I do hope you write a tribute to her, I would love to read it.

          • L. T. Garvin, Author says:

            That’s a great summation of the poem, Annika. She was certainly a kick in the pants for a Victorian. The poem was required reading in a literature class I took or I wouldn’t have known about it. She was incredibly talented. Thank you 😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jacqui, you get my message in this post exactly! 😀 The metaphor for so much bound up in this crocus – I fear I became nearly obsessed with it, I took so many photos, some terrible! I must admit I didn’t expect it to flower either although I hoped, however after that I was disappointed it didn’t flower again! That’s life! How’s the winter been weather wise for you? I’ve seen news about the terrible floods in California and hope you haven’t been affected. Yep, Spring roll on! 😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment – how true. In its short life the crocus flower gave such joy…and even more so via this post. I was surprised how quickly it succumbed once inside the house and only flowered the once. Too warmth? Too much water? Still, so many gifts all around us, we just have to take the time and care to see them.😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Well, with sunlight in the mornings and longer evenings of daylight, with the trees budding and even a couple of lunches outside (wrapped up warm) I am in full Spring mood and I couldn’t help but share this feeling of lightness and joy. Time to tackle the garden!! Perfect!😀

  18. Phil Ryan says:

    That is a lovely gambit to a wonderful post, Annika. The flower nearly as impressive as the writing. Top effort 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Oh, I definitely agree, Phil, the crocus is the star of the post! 😀 I was going to just post the photo as part of WordlessWednesday but I do have difficulty not writing anything at all…goes against my nature!😀 Many thanks for your lovely comment.

  19. Jill Weatherholt says:

    Beautiful post, Annika. I love crocuses and yours is perfection. Although Spring hasn’t officially arrived here, we’ve got temperatures hitting 80 degrees and the Robins are everywhere.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you, Jill and as you can tell I love crocuses as well! 😀It’s not often I get such a close view of them which was a real treat. You have temperatures which are our summer highs, lovely! I’m just celebrating the warmer (mid-50s during the day) – Dickens got it just right when he wrote that in the sun it feels warm but in the shade it is still the bitter cold of winter. I know, still three weeks until official Spring but being the first of March I decided to trick my mind into lighter feeling of Spring early!!😀❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      I feel very ignorant as it was only when I started writing this post and researching that I read about the saffron from crocuses (croci – both seem acceptable!) The Cretans harvested these in ancient times and there are murals at Knosses depicting this. Thanks for the reminder and I will definitely collect some – think what I’ve missed out on all the previous years!

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