The delicate pink hyacinth is an anomaly, an unlikely pleasure popping up amongst the rose-colored potted begonias and the tall errant milkweeds that dot our home's front entrance way.
Maybe not such a big deal in Florida, but to those with northern roots the annual appearance of the hyacinth's tiny, bell-shaped flowers is a welcoming harbinger that signals long winter's end; a well-played note in nature's spring prelude often accompanied by a palette of yellow daffodils, brilliant colored crocus and sky-blue snow glories known for their fortitude in sprouting through a late winter snow.
There's a promising message there, planted with forethought in the autumn months by hopeful gardeners who know the doldrums a gray, claustrophobic season can bring.
"Have faith, for this too shall pass," is the perennial directive for those whose good mood has been buried beneath a thick blanket of snow.
Well over 60 inches of the stuff has fallen in New England so far, I'm told by family and friends who call to complain about sore shoulders from all that shoveling and the 5-foot-long icicles that need to be swept from the roof.
Don't miss that. At all.
But the display of late-winter hyacinths is a tradition I don't not want to shake — even if it means having to settle for the store-bought, potted kind.
Their tiny blossoms are on the "Top Ten List" of things I miss, right up there with Cape Cod-style fish and chips, Italian sub sandwiches, autumn leaves and the golden forsythia bush.
While northern folks can pretty much depend on a cyclical bloom in their native landscape, here in the South, spring bulbs such as the hyacinth are typically a one-shot deal that cannot thrive in our warm, sandy soil. Even so, every year I purchase a pot of the pink or purple variety. For a few brief weeks, our home is filled with a fragrant bloom that spurs thoughts of home and what's to come and some tender memories, too, since the hyacinth was a favored flower of a dear, loved one who has long since passed on.
After a time, the blooms are done. The stems yellow, the flowers droop and fade and so the pot gets tossed for recycling.
This particular hyacinth is last year's spring purchase that never made it to the recycling bin. Somehow it survived the summer heat and my neglect and is now sprouting tiny pink blossoms through tired soil, determined it seems, to herald the hopeful message that every so often life offers up such an unlikely pleasure.
Michele Miller can be reached at [email protected]