Connections: Crimes & Daffodils

These first things I do in the morning aren’t chores but pleasurable rituals

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a psychological need to set the household to rights before doing much of anything else in the morning. First I potter around the bedroom, putting a book left willy-nilly on the bedside table back in its place or picking up socks I tossed about at bedtime. Next comes the kitchen, tidying away spices neglected after dinner or pots and pans scrubbed and left to dry. I think I am a morning potterer because I always pre-emptively imagine what the house will look like should company drop by, even if no one is expected but family.

Birdwatching comes next on my pleasant morning rounds. I’m not an expert, by any means, but no matter: I keep two feeders outside the sun porch windows and an eye on whatever winged creature shows up. Recently, a family member helped me identify a few migrating species as well as the songs of the chickadees and the red-wing blackbirds. I refill the feeder and stand and watch the woodpeckers and blue jays, even before coffee, before brushing my teeth.

These first things I do in the morning aren’t chores but pleasurable rituals, and it’s true in all weather. I can attest that there’s something to be said for taking the time to listen to the wind or to watch snow fall in winter.

On spring mornings like these, however, after the bedroom and the pots and pans and the birds, I habitually check the vases I like to keep filled, eliminating any flowers that no longer look good and rearranging the bouquets.

Four varieties of narcissus came up in the yard this year, and, after they were just about gone, I gathered more wherever I could. The dog, Sweet Pea, and I haven’t had to go very far on our morning walks before we find a few daffodils that call out to be collected.

One day recently Sweet Pea and I were out for a stroll when we casually meandered into a neighbor’s backyard and the neighbor suddenly appeared. “What are you doing?” she called out, sounding annoyed. “Stealing daffodils,” I confessed, although saying so was gilding the lily, so to speak. It was obvious what we were doing. Even Sweet Pea looked shamefaced.

I then mumbled something irrelevant about this being a second-home community and my having thought that if no one was in residence, taking advantage of gorgeous daffodils was fair game. But, of course, someone clearly was in residence. Sorry, neighbor!

Lord knows, we are lucky to live in a place where nature remains bountiful, where it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the arrival of new growth. Even invasive plants can be beautiful, like the wild, wanton spread of lesser celandine that Larry Penny identified for me last week.

 A perfect match for the yard’s dandelions — a bright, buttercup yellow —lesser celandine (or ranunculus ficaria), mixed in with cornflower-blue flowers of several sizes that I don’t know the name of, has for several decades given our front lawn more the appearance of a meadow in May than a suburban lawn. We like the meadow effect, even if it’s not everyone’s taste. The fact that dog-walking neighbors are unlikely to stop by to help themselves to our wildflower weeds is a bonus, I suppose, but if they did they’d be welcome.