Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daffodils-Part II

This little red structure, which I've always admired, is located in Dutton on Route 198. If I'm not mistaken (and there's a reasonably good chance I am), nearby is a field that sprouts daffodils each spring. Speaking of daffodils, below is a continuation of the speech my grandmother gave to a state-wide Woman’s Club convention held in Richmond in the 1970's.

Daffodils - Part II
By Chesapeake Bay Paternal Grandmother

Click here for Part I

“…The daffodil has meant Nature’s annual re-birth for many hundreds of years—over Southern Europe, when color once again erases the drabness of winter. Daffodils are all members of the amaryllis family and belong to the Northern Hemisphere. Most of them came from the mountains and valleys of Spain and Portugal, back in the days when Mother Nature directed the gardens of the earth. It was these wild things the poets of old described and the common people took to their hearts and scattered everywhere over the country-side, especially in the British Isles.

It was mostly wild daffodils our ancestors brought to this country in and after colonial days. In fact, the first fain* beginning of the modern daffodil dates back to about 1870, when certain Englishmen began inter crossing selected specimens of their wild Lent Lilies and first produced Emperor and Empress, followed a few years later by King Alfred,** the greatest daffodil of all time in terms of popularity and quantities raised and sold.

So it was: Mother Nature first presented us with the wild daffodils and men, mostly studious Englishmen, took over the processes of evolution in the latter part of the 19th century and produced the bulging list of varieties available today…..”
-CB Paternal Grandmother
Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Additional Mindless Commentary--Because She Just Can't Help Herself

*I confess, I am in my forties and have never seen nor heard of this word before, but that should not come as any surprise. Either that or the Brain Disease I succumbed to after my first child was born has wiped out any and all memory of that word (and many others). "Feign" yes. "Fain" no, it's not ringing a bell. At first I thought it was a typo, but because Chesapeake Bay Woman is known to be wrong *occasionally,* I decided to look it up. “Fain” means gladly or willingly, and is archaic, just like my computer and my dial-up internet. By the way, any day now, based on its impertinent behavior, this PC will be making its underwater debut into Queens Creek.

**I remember this particular type of flower. My grandfather grew jillions of them. Jillions is what comes after billions, in case you didn't know. (I learned this as a liberal arts major who survived four years of college with nary a math class taken.)

Each spring I spent many hours after school picking King Alfreds. Do you have King Alfred in a can? Better let him out. Sorry, this is the first thing I think of when I hear King Alfred, even if it wasn't King Alfred, but Prince Alfred. Or Prince Albert. Prince Henry? Patrick Henry?

Does anyone, anywhere have any idea what any of this has to do with daffodils?

Don't forget to submit your entries into The Contest so that we can actually read something up here that flows in a logical, sensible, coherent, cogent, organized and succinct fashion rather than my flitting from one unrelated topic to another such that one minute we're talking about King Alfred daffodils and the next we're mentioning Patrick Henry, who may or may not have been trapped in a can.

(I know, it's Prince Albert. I also know he has nothing to do with daffodils. And I also know that if I don't stop typing right now, I will never shut up. You're welcome.)


Unknown said...

I'm learning so much from your paternal grandmother. Now when I see doffodils at the florist, I'll spurt tidbits of "daffodil knowledge" and boy will they be impressed!

is that red building bowing at the bottom?

Anonymous said...

I have relatives (on my mom's side of the family) who were orginally from Dutton. As a matter of fact, their last name was Dutton. Go figure!

My grandmother was crazy about daffodils. They were planted all over her yard, and I couldn't wait to see them bloom in the spring:)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Grandma Deluxe (my new name for you courtesy of your grandson) - There's still 3 pages to go of the speech, so by the time this is over you'll be a daffodil expert, that is if you don't fall asleep halfway through these boring posts.

BHE - I HAVE RELATIVES FROM DUTTON. Or rather, my mother's family lived at Dutton for a long time. We just might be kin yet.

Angela said...

I can easily follow you. Not that I know who and what you are talking of, with Prince Albert and Patrick Henry. But I don`t mind you jumping around. It´s always a fun tour with you. Yes, daffodils in the spring, I`m waiting for you!

pjhammer_1965 said...

Wow, who knew there was so much to know about daffodils. I remember some kids in my class use to make ten cents a bunch picking them for some farm, their hands a mess with cuts, scrapes, and some allergic reactions to daffodil sap. Daffodils always remind me of home...spring can't come to soon!

Mental P Mama said...

So your grandfather was a fain cultivator of daffodils? Qwah!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Angela - Thanks for at least trying to keep up with my frog-legged thoughts. On the topic of daffodils, I saw one IN BLOOM today in the next county over. January, 30 degrees out, and a daffodil blooming.

PJH - CB Sisters and I used to pick for my grandfather, and I'd wear protective thingies on my finger tips to avoid flower poisoning, which was when the sap got into the cuts on your hands and burned like battery acid. I loved that outdoor work though, and I particularly loved driving the tractor up and down the fields picking up baskets of flowers.

MPM - Yes, just like I'm a fain procrastinator. Qwah.

Karen Deborah said...

Well if I could figure out what the contest is I could maybe go enter something old, would be a lot like your stuff so what's the point? You know we established that we were separated at birth a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Stories of daffodils bring back memories.

Picking daffodils for 5 cents a bunch (10 to 12 flowers) was one of the few options school kids had to make money in the spring. We wore white "church" gloves to protect our fingers. There were 40 bunches in a basket, so we would wrap 40 rubber bands at a time around our fingers. When the rubber bands were gone, we knew we had enough flowers to fill the basket.

Looking forward to the rest of your grandmother's essay.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

KD - I know that you have characters you could write about, and you probably already have written about them on freshfixins. If there's nothing else people should walk away with from this crazy little site of mine, it is that everyone, everyday, experiences things that are worth writing about, even if it's only to poke fun at yourself for having done something ridiculous, such as mistaking ground ginger for ground mustard in a recipe. For example. The shorter version version of this = please enter, I'd love to read about someone in your life who you deem to be a character of some sort of another.

MMM - If my math cells are able to rise to the occasion, that would mean we bent over with bloodied fingers for $2 per basket, which does sound about right. I don't know about anyone else, but if I asked my kids to go stand in a field in either (a) freezing cold, blowing wind or (b) heat, depending on the whims of the weather gods, it would take more than $2 a basket to get them motivated to do it.

I don't remember once, not ever, questioning how much I'd be making. The fact was, we were making money. Period. And even though it was pretty hard work with the bending and the stooping and the counting and what not, I loved it.

I wonder what it would take to resurrect the flower business here on Chesapeake Bay Parents' property. I am sure it would not be profitable, but it might be enjoyable.

Happy Thursday, aka Friday Eve to anyone still awake.