Snowdrops mean more to me than any other flower. They represent hope; light in darkness; continuity; and most of all connection to my late mother.
Mother was a true lover of nature and was also a diarist from when she was able to write. Looking through her diaries from the 1920s to the early 200os, the common denominator for January was her entry for her first sighting of a snowdrop ‘showing white,’ as she always put it.
Her birthday was on January 29th and from the time I had my own garden, I would bring her a little ‘bouquet’ of snowdrops to mark the day. No matter what the weather, the snowdrops never failed to bloom for her birthday, though there were some very close calls.
Amazingly, it wasn’t until after she died that I discovered that William Wordsworth had written a poem about snowdrops:
TO A SNOWDROP
LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
Yesterday evening I was out in the garden planting up a pot with bright yellow primulas in memory of my first love, who died on January 5th, 1981, when I was in my early twenties. I was thinking about the degree to which my mother had supported me through that major loss and encouraged me to both write and find solace in the wonders of nature. She adored perennials and passed this love on to me ~ a year punctuated by snowdrops, primroses, daffodils, bluebells, honeysuckle, agapanthus, nerines and holly.
Just as I was thinking about all this and her love of the moon, the changing tides, rainbows ….. I stood up to admire my pot of golden primulas which I could now barely see as night had closed in. Then out of the very corner of my eye, I saw a tiny white glow under the Monkey Puzzle tree. Surely too early for snowdrops! But no, two tiny buds were ‘showing white,’ and showing me that Mother’s presence will never die and will no doubt sparkle at the times when I miss her most.
6 thoughts on “Snowdrops of Hope”
This is so beautiful, Jean. As they say, I suppose our only true greatness is our capacity to love. You are such a great reminder.
From all your writings, I feel I know your mother, I can see how much I would have enjoyed spending time with her, we have so many common loves.
I am so glad the snowdrops spoke to you this morning.
Asha, many thanks! I’m more than sure that you and Mother would have got one exceptionally well – all conversation would have been in verse and a lot of it about nature!
A beautiful piece, Jean. There is no love like that of a mother’s.
John, thanks for writing. I certainly won’t argue your point about mothers’ love!
Jean, just now reading this and I agree with Asha; through your memories, I feel as though I know your mother , who seems so much like my own.
Snowdrops happen to be a favorite of mine. I planted a few as a new bride in my first house. They nestle under my azalea and when winter seems like it would go on forever, I take such joy in seeing their snow white buds push through the snow and cold earth!
Nancy, how special mothers are! I’m glad that I have managed to give you a sense of my own mother. Isn’t it interesting how snowdrops have such significance when they are so small and often hidden beneath other shrubs?