“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils….”
My mother loved art, music and literature and she loved a number of poems especially “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth. An energetic, tireless woman, she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in her latter years which stole her vitality and her mind. I saw her every day and although she had great difficulty speaking, I could lead her through the first three lines of her favorite poem, “Daffodils,” hundreds of times prompting her to recite the fourth line which always brought her great pleasure.
Although I brought my mom flowers all the time, I never brought her daffodils and even more strange, I did not know what daffodils looked like. Sadly, my mom passed away in 2010 just short of her 92nd birthday.
Several weeks ago while at Tender Crop Farm, I saw some pretty yellow flowers. I had a sudden urge to purchase a small bunch thinking they would look warm on my writing desk. I was hesitant because I had never purchased flowers for myself. Nevertheless, I purchased a bunch and so enjoyed them that I returned the following week to purchase more. On my third trip back, the flowers were not in their familiar place. I looked around, somewhat upset, and yes! I saw them against a side wall under a sign which said “Daffodils.” Uncontrollably, my eyes filled with tears. I fought to compose myself realizing without question why I was drawn to those delicate, yellow blossoms. My mother has been speaking to me. Oh my God, I thought, fighting back the tears. I purchased several bunches and placed them reverently on my writing table.
The following week, I found no daffodils and was told that their season had passed. As fate would have it, I stopped by the Arrowhead Farm stand at the Farmers Market at the Tannery and found several bunches of daffodils displayed. Excitedly, I purchased a bunch which required a taller glass to keep them displayed on my writing table. With great anticipation, I returned to the Arrowhead Farm stand the following Sunday, Mother’s Day. Seeing none, I asked if there were any to be purchased. The bespeckled man, looking out from under a worn baseball cap with a grayish pony tail hanging out the back informed me kindly that the daffodil season was over and that they did not have any to sell.
Oh, I said, and turned to walk back to my car, stopping to look at the Arrowhead wagon parked along Federal Street to view some other yellow flowers which had caught my eye. As I stood there, the bespeckled man approached the wagon. ‘You looked so disappointed when I told you that we had no daffodils, I want you to have some…”
I looked that disappointed?
Oh yes, you looked terribly disappointed and I want you to have some and I want to give them to you.
That is so kind of you, I said. But I want to pay for them.
No. I want you to have them. I have them at the farm. Mostly white ones which are much more fragrant but I think I can find you some yellow ones as well.
I was overwhelmed. What is your name, I asked. Dick Moulton, he told me. And then I told him of my daffodil experience at Tender Crop Farm. Ah, he said, now I understand your disappointment.
I followed Dick to Arrowhead Farm and he cut a bunch of fresh daffodils from his garden. White ones, they were bursting with fragrance in the warm May sun and then he found a number of stately yellow ones which brought an added smile to my face. We shared stories about our mothers: the debilitating lifestyles they both suffered from in their later years; their inherent sweetness that continued to shine through; how they were so loved and now missed. Dick told me that he was the 11th generation of Moulton family members that have been operating the farm since 1683. Most extraordinary, I thought.
And as I was driving out the dirt road of the Arrowhead Family Farm I thought about how extraordinary our meeting had been. How perceptive and kind Dick had been and how standing on that fertile earth we shared memories of love, longing and appreciation for our mothers; two strangers standing among the gently wavering daffodils experiencing a most unexpected and heartwarming Mother’s Day.
Ken Smith lives on Plum Island.