The flowers think it is almost spring. The little bulb flowers, snowdrops and crocuses, stretch their green fingers up through the soil, careless of the bite of winter that still lingers in the air, heedless of the chance for snow.
As I pass by the deli flower stalls, the smell of sweet hyacinth follows me down the street, begging me to buy and bring home a basket. The other night someone asked, what is the best thing you have ever smelled and my mind immediately reached out to hyacinth. So fresh and clean; so unlike the city streets. I cannot imagine them in the wild. Do they live in the wild? Or are they a human plant, raised and grown, like corn, to only grow where humans tell them to? Or grow feral like the tiny grape hyacinth that erupted in my sister’s lawn, only to be weeded out until I explained that they were flowers, and then they were given a new home in the empty bed by the fence.
Soon other bulb flowers will join and the park will be filled with narcissus. Each one, like a golden star, perfect and clean. Do they know how beautiful they are? Or do they need to view their reflection to recognize their own beauty – but then they may gaze too deeply, become too entranced and risk being pushed in and held under by jealous Echo.
The reflection is the echo of the narcissus, held for a moment in still water. It’s like a glimpse of who we really are, that perfect stillness within where we let go of all we should be, all we want to be, all the distractions that lead us to question, and where we rest, like Narcissus, outstretched, chin on folded hands, gazing at the stillness and the reflection of ourselves within that stillness.
Later, as we are walking through the streets, we glance down and notice the sky captured in the smooth surface of a tiny puddle of water, trapped within a rut in the road. That small piece of sky reminds me of the stillness within.
Sometimes the puddle is disturbed by the wind or the rumble of a passing car, the water shakes and trembles. It is easy to become distracted, to let things ripple the surface and break up the reflection. Clouds dim it, sun dances across it, a sheen of pollen creates a non-reflective slick. Autumn leaves obscure it. The winter freezes it to flaky ice, or dries it, leaving only the basin where the water should live. But the stillness is there beneath, within, the potential for reflection remains even when the water has dried.
But the narcissus doesn’t return until the water is ready to reflect it.
That is how we know it is spring.