One more spring for Crystal

IMG_0232For as long as I can remember, crocuses have been my flower. I grew up in Lumsden, Saskatchewan–a small town in the Qu’appelle Valley that sharply contrasts the table-top prairie surrounding it. In the hills in spring, we would find crocuses. They are faithful little things, bravely popping up every year after the snow is gone.  Sometimes they pop up before the snow leaves, which is what they did this year. The only time they don’t is when Wallace the Chipmunk finds the stash and tunnels around from bulb to bulb eating them all.  We had a small bed under a tree in the front yard, and he ate

When I moved to Ottawa, one of the things I loved immediately was the crocuses.  They have been planted everywhere on purpose–all around Parliament Hill, on corners at major intersections and along boulevards where they can naturalize into carpets of white and purple with specks of yellow. While Ottawa is well-known for its Tulip Festival each year, the crocuses are my reason to celebrate. They are among the first flowers, followed by daffodils and tulips. No one else has the courage to try first.

There was a time when I was very ill, so ill that it was rare for me to leave the chair by the picture window.  One day as I looked out at the world, I noticed a single crocus transplanted in the lawn, perhaps helped along by a squirrel who tucked it away for the future. There was so much hope for me in that tiny flower and I recall sobbing until I had no tears left. There was such a profound and exquisite beauty in that brave burst of colour. A promise of heaven, of something being left behind to bloom and grow, even though parts of it had to die for that to happen.

Once established crocuses have strong root systems and even Wallace will have to be highly motivated to destroy them all. They come up so early in the spring that often they are surprised by late spring frosts–today as I write this, we are getting new fresh snow.  I’m a little bitter about that, but not as much as before I saw this year’s blooms. It’s been such a long winter, and every life will experience such a season. After a few days of wilting, a fresh burst of warmth will make them open again.crocuses

But–what joy–I’ve been reminded they are there. I know they have made it through. Why does this matter? Because during the time I was so very sick, an acquaintance gifted me with a poem,  the last line of which was “One more spring for Crystal.” Not a single year goes by where I don’t think of that. The moment I see a little striped flower popping its cheery face up in my front yard, I know I’ve been blessed. It’s a beautiful, life-affirming thing.

Some days are harder than others.  Some months, some years even. It’s that way for everyone. Crocuses cannot bloom without a winter in between.  Spring is not spring without that same burdensome period of rest.

For whatever reason, I’m not dead yet. I’m pretty happy about that and I celebrate birthdays with abandon. When it is my turn, as it surely will be some day–plant crocuses, as many as you can. Remind yourself, it’s one more spring for you too.

Because that, is surely better than the alternative.

7 thoughts on “One more spring for Crystal

  1. I am so deeply grateful that you are here…in my life. I am blessed by you dear friend.

  2. We just arrived in Saskatoon after a 6 hour road trip from my school in south-west Edmonton. The weather changed from partly cloudy to heavy snow to freezing rain to earlier-in-the-week snow being blown across the highway to an Arizona-like scenery (minus the cacti) all in the space of those hours! Up to 20 cm of snow is forecast for the next 24 hours pretty much in the general area where we’ll be for the next three days. Someone sent me an email with a pic of Easter bunny in Santa’s sleigh being pulled by 6 yellow chicks: HO HO HO…Merry Easter the caption said. It will be good to see mom and my brother and his family….I just hope the highway crew will be somewhere ahead of us once we hit the road! P.S. I loved your crocus story….I hoped to look for some around Canora….might have to take the snow shovel along! Good night for now. Pat

  3. I have no other words than I love you so very much. I am sure you would say let your actions speak not your words and I would agree. You were the first person to reach out to me when I was diagnosed, you taught me cancer was going to have some dark scary rooms that no one else could go to with me, you helped me deal with the wonderful trouble that was my mother. You literally shut the door on her and shut her out which needed to be done but you did it for me when I couldn’t do it myself and at the same honoured my Mom by remembering her birthday and her own personal fight and that brought her comfort and encouraged her. You played and sang at our wedding in spite of feeling like you needed to fall over. You beat me at scrabble too often. Your photography is reaching my heart and I am sure many others. You blogs let me peek inside you and I thank you for sharing.
    I never want a spring without Crystal and I will never look at a crocus the same way again.
    Thank you Crystal for all you have done for me and I pledge, if you are interested, in letting my actions speak over my words.


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