Several times my daughter had telephoned to say... "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive.
"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren. I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to
drive another inch!"
My daughter smiled calmly," We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears--and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church I saw a hand-lettered sign "Daffodil Garden."
We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then we turned a corner of the
path, and I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it
down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in
majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange,
white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each
different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and
flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. Five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.
"It's just one woman" Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property.
That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that
looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to
On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know
You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.
"50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was,"one at a time, by one
woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer
was, "Began in 1958."
There it was. The Daffodil Principle.
For me that moment was a
life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met,
who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun -- one bulb at a time
-- to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top.
Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the
world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she
lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest
principles of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires
one step at a time -- often just one baby-step at a time -- learning to
love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we
multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we
too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have
accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago
and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time through all those years.
Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her direct way. "Start
tomorrow," she said. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of
The way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a
cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"