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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring from the Valley to You…

Ranier in Spring

Ten thousand saw I at a glance/Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

William Wordsworth

A beautiful morning in the Valley. Spring. I feel it in the sun. And the birds confirm it. Even Gladys seems to glide along in uncharacteristic bliss. Down Valley all nature seems to be giddy with the day. I see a violet-green swallow perched on a snag at Crescent Lake. Red wing blackbirds are in a “cork-a-twee-dunk” competition from the swamp by the fish and game parking lot. A bald eagle oversees all this nonsense from the old cedar tree. But he can scarcely contain his own delight in the day.

Mt. Ranier is glorious this morning. We extend the route to our mountain vista by the Qualco Energy generator building. On the return, I can’t help but record the flowering daffodils in the Cambodians’ flower fields.Clump of springOne row is nearly in full bloom. I wonder why these blossoms aren’t plucked, bunched, and marketed at flower stands at the Pike Place Market. Share the spring, I say.Spring daffodils 

I’ve just left the golden row and am about to mount up again when I see a splash of red ahead at the edge of the field. “Tulips,” I think, “a little more spring color to brighten up my post!” I’m fishing in my pocket for my camera when the tulip row moves, morphs into Mrs. Schmidt, wearing a flaming red sweater. She and Lucy are taking in the spring air. I wish her a “Good morning,” and warn her of the bulls in the pasture up ahead.

The Valley daffodils remind me of a book I read many years ago: Charles Kuralt’s America. Kuralt was  a CBS journalist and founder of the program “On the Road” and later went on to host the network’s Sunday Morning, a program that continues today. Kuralt had a friend, Granville Hall, who raised daffodils/narcissus. Each year he would send Charles a bag of daffodils, and Kuralt would plant them on his Connecticut farm. Because he was a journalist, Charles would usually be on assignment in foreign lands at daffodil time and was never on site to see his fall planting efforts in blossom.

One year in his annual shipment of bulbs, Kuralt was surprised to find a small packet of two bulbs. Their scientific name was Narcissus charles kuralt. His friend Granville had raised the special bulbs from seed and registered them with the Royal Horticultural Society. Friend Granville said it was the first cultivar he’d ever registered, and he had done so in honor of Kuralt’s impending retirement. Charles planted the special bulbs that fall and was able to see them flower the next spring.

My sister Claudia has a variety of apple named after her, a mutation she found while on assignment in the apple orchards of her youth, a red delicious “sport” now called “Claudia.” There is something awesome about having your own name attached to a living thing, a genetic variation that will carry you on through the seasons, through life: the years, centuries—in perpetuity—and make your name immortal. Your mark on eternity. A writer’s words and thoughts can be engraved on time. That we all know. But a name immortalized in plant life is equally impressive.

Kuralt said of N. charles kuralt: “Plaques tarnish. Scrolls fade. But those daffodil bulbs will divide and multiply. Within a year or two, I’ll be able to give a couple of bulbs to each of my daughters. If they plant them and care for them, those will divide in turn and yield bulbs for my grandchildren. With a little luck, the flower named Charles Kuralt will appear from the earth to bloom in the spring long years after the man of the same name is gone.”

“I guess that’s not exactly immortality, but it’s as close as I will ever get.”

Charles Kuralt: September 10, 1934—July 4, 1997 Snow capped Pilchuck

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