Last autumn, contrary to my better judgment, I planted seventy-five crocus bulbs. My sister had received them as a free gift with her very first online order of tulip bulbs from British Columbia. She had no place to plant them, she claimed, and so asked me if I would like to take them. And so, I popped them into the ground as deeply as I felt I could, given the size of the bulb, to protect them from squirrels and winter thaws.
Immediately our family of black squirrels went insane with excitement and proceeded to
methodically dig, dig, dig, and replant their treasure trove of bulbs as I frantically back-filled their holes, made threatening noises and chased them away whenever I could.
One November day, I was about to get into the car to leave for Ohio, when I noticed several unearthed bulbs that needed my attention. As my husband waited patiently in the driver’s seat, I speedily replanted the bulbs and dashed down the stairs to the tap on the side of the house to wash my hands before breathlessly settling in the passenger’s seat.
Throughout my six week absence, I often imagined the squirrels having rousing get-togethers in my crocus bed as they challenged one another regarding the digging up of the most bulbs.
When I returned in January to naked, frozen ground, unearthed bulbs were visible once
more. For a week or so, I didn’t know what to do but finally decided to mound a 30 liter bag of potting soil over the top of the area.
The winter advanced as the warmest, most snowless and most random in all of history.
I recalled a year when I had planted one hundred daffodil bulbs and only one had come up. According to a newspaper article by Fred Dale, I was not alone due to all the freezing and thawing that had occurred that particular February.
While I had been expecting to wander “lonely as a cloud, o’er vales and hills,” and see “A host of golden daffodils” as William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy had in 1802, I was, instead, hugely disappointed and sorely dismayed.
And now, in the middle of March, unseasonable 70 to 80 degree temperatures are forcing bulbs of all sorts but especially the early crocuses. Some are coming up alone in odd locations, and as I walk through the neighborhood, I imagine that many of the larger and more colorful specimens are actually those planted originally by my hand in my crocus bed.
Anyway, the crocus season is very short, and I am counting my crocuses as they hatch, so to speak, and loving every minute of it.