Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Daffodil Principle

Every year, high in the San Bernardino mountain range of Southern California, five acres of beautiful daffodils burst into bloom. Amazingly, this special spot, known as "The Daffodil Garden," was planted by one person, Gene Bauer, one bulb at a time, beginning in 1958.

The story of the Daffodil garden revolves around a mother and daughter on an errand in very bad weather. The daughter has taken a route that does not please the mother….. The story unfolds.....

…. after about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds of the valley, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips.

As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note - above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) “But who has done this?” I asked. “Who?”

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. 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, my mind buzzing with questions. 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,” it read. 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. The Daffodil Principle.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts - simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown 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 teaches 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.

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five 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!”

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting... until your car or home is paid off. Until you get a new car or home. Until your kids leave the house. Until you go back to school. Until you finish school. Until you clean the house. Until you organize the garage. Until you clean off your desk. Until you lose 10 lbs. Until you gain 10 lbs. Until you get married. Until you get a divorce. Until you have kids. Until the kids go to school. Until you retire. Until summer. Until spring. Until winter. Until fall. Until you die...

Addendum: The Willow Fire of 1999 destroyed the Bauer's A-frame home, its surrounding shady trees and garden. Miraculously, the daffodil bulbs beneath the ground survived.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking Care of Samurai Jack or When You Give a Cat a Kibble

Recently, my husband and I went away for a few days and my dear, sweet mother came and stayed with my three boys and took care of all the animals. When we returned I read Steve the directions I had left for taking care of Samurai Jack- our awesome 22lb Maine coon cat. We thought they were so crazy that we just had to share them...

So, without further ado...

Samurai Jack: Please accept my apologies from the get go. Dear God. Hopefully he'll help you- and I mean God!

In the morning, could be 4am, you will be awakened by Samurai Jack biting papers in the bedroom. Anything he can find. Or he will get on you. Either way, he'll let you know he's hungry.

So you wander to our bathroom, and in the bottom of the drawer there is a little bowl - you fill that with dry kibbles and shut him in the bathroom. He'll let you know when he's done- you'll hear knock, knock, knock on the door. You'll stagger to the door, let him out and put the food back in the drawer and then kind of follow him to the hallway- see, if the boys leave their bathroom door open, he'll go in and poop on their rug - so you have to follow him and make sure that door is closed. Then he'll go downstairs to poop.

You can rest for a few hours until he needs to be fed again.

He will want to eat again in bit, and you'll give him more dry food. This can be done downstairs in the mudroom or the bathroom - he has to be alone - otherwise Jilly will eat his food and vomit everywhere. Are you having fun yet?

So, this dry food is done in a little glass bowl and the food is in the pantry. At dinner time he will get a can of wet food. You can just put it on top of any leftover kibbles in the little glass bowl. He'll eat it in the mudroom and then the dog will clean up what makes it to the floor. If there is any left in the bowl, we put a plate on it and leave it out (it gets better with age apparently). He'll eat it for a snack the next day! And of course, he'll be hungry by 4am anyway- but that's the upstairs food! Yeah!!

Mom says next time, send the kids to her house and board the animals...