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The Daffodil Principle

On the Bright Side

Here's another one of those wonderful little tales that makes its way through the universe by email, word-of-mouth, and/or written copy. No one knows who wrote it, but it's worth passing on because it has a wonderful reminder for us all.

Here you are, the story of the Daffodil Principle:

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-haour drive from my house to hers. "I will come next Tuesday," I finally promised a little reluctantly.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I went. 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 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."

"How far will we have to drive?"

"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said, "and I'll drive. I'm used to this."

After several minutes in the car I had to ask, "Where are we going? 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, "please turn around."

"It's all right, Mother. I promise you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign "Daffodil Garden." We got out of the car and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped.

Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes.

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 was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. Five acres of flowers.

"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property and 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 and 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."

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 in three lines and a glorious hillside: The Daffodil Principle.

For me that moment was a life-changing experience – to see the work of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than 35 years before had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop.

Just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this 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 me is one of the greatest principles 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.

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal 35 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 daughter summed up the message of the day in her own direct way.

"Start now," she said.

Good advice.

© Marilda Mel White. Mel White, Tehachapi photographer/writer and co-owner of the Treasure Trove, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at [email protected].