Spring Forward


Mother and Daughter in Garden by Arthur Sarnoff (1912-2000)

It was a small unassuming pot, standing quiet and humble behind the glitzy greens and magnificent magentas stocked by Sophie. “The flowers must be allowed to sing their own song” Margaret would fondly remind her young daughter, but nevertheless, the latest delivery saw even more weird and wonderful brightly coloured ceramic creations push the little brown pot further to the back of their small cottage garden centre.

Like the newly wakened tulips, daffodils and hyacinths gently tousling loose soil from their curious heads, Sophie too was preparing to step forth into the world and animate it anew with her energy and colour. Margaret watched as both her daughter and the flowers they lovingly tended each day came into their own and thought about how enriched her life was by their beauty.

It was April, and the end of school beckoned. This would be the last time they would tend the Spring flowers together, and every happy thought Margaret had was tinged with sadness as the appearance of each new bud seemed at the same time to spell the end of everything. But, determined to enjoy their precious time, she committed herself to the difficult task of forgetting.

Fragrant flowers burst forth from Sophie’s magnificent pots, and the combined colour was astounding. Margaret loved her chatter as she worked. She seemed to have an endless supply of stories to share, and the good nature with which she relayed them made her proud of her confident, gracious daughter.

The sun continued to rise and set, rise and set, and unstoppable obelisk shadows travelled across the rows of seedlings, shrubs, plants and flowers, gliding over fresh growth and resigning each day to memory.

New life among new life, Margaret watched as Sophie lovingly planted, watered and fed each little plant. But no matter how caring, attentive, supportive or loving we are, we cannot stop the march of time. What we can do is ensure a flower is the brightest it can be, and that the stems upon which it bobs its fragrant head are gentle, yet strong.

Margaret had created life, nurtured it and watched it grow, and like a daffodil her daughter now stood tall and bright to face the sun. Like any good gardener, Margaret recognised the importance of pausing and standing back to admire what she had made. She would feast her eyes on the colour, and inhale the fragrant perfume of her daughter’s presence to ensure its mark would be indelible upon her soul.

One May morning, Margaret rose first, her daughter still sleeping. Like a butterfly, her eyes intermittently flitted and rested upon the rows of delicate petals in the morning sunlight. It was then that she encountered the first withering tulip. One cupped leaf had fallen, leaving the heart of the flower exposed. She could not stop it and was overcome with grief for the delicate blossom that gave so much joy over what seemed such an unfairly short amount of time.

She thought of the bulb asleep in the soil over so many months, and of her daughter slumbering in the small room that was ever hers and always would be. Like the tulip had in Spring, her daughter too would wake, and when the time would come to let her go, Margaret would learn to savour whatever time she had with her, however inconstant, and allow her essence and memory to sustain her until they met again.

Peeping out from between the bright ceramics, from which she could now never part, Margaret glimpsed the small humble pot. She smiled gratefully for what had been, what was, and what would be as her beautiful flower prepared to go forth into the world to sing her own song.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes