The Daffodil Principle

Daffodils by my rock wall

My grandmother loved them, undoubtedly because they were a sure sign of spring.  When my husband and I bought our home, it came with daffodils lining up the rock wall and rounding the corner of our house.  It was that first spring living here that I too fell in love with the brilliantly colored flower.  A symbol of life and hope and strength.  (I always love when I see the first sprouts of green through the snow!)

A few years back, while attending a Responsive Classroom workshop, I was told the Daffodil Principle and today, I would like to share it with you.  Whether you’ve heard it before or this is your first time, it is an inspirational story that reminds us that we can all make a difference, taking one small step at a time.  Just think what we could all accomplish if we all followed the Daffodil Principle.

Enjoy the story as you ponder: How can I put this to use today in my teaching?

The Daffodil Principle

by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.”

I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “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, reluctantly, I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

“Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!”

My daughter smiled calmly and said, “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.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.”

“How far will we have to drive?”

“Oh…just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “But I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”

After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!”

“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”

“Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.”

“It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

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 with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden” We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, 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 over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn.

“Just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.”

Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. 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 one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time–often just one baby-step at time–and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small elements of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

“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 or forty 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 usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.

She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”

Enjoy your day!

~EMP

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and is currently enrolled in a C.A.G.S. program through Plymouth State University with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and leads an arts integration PLC (PLaiC). Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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4 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow. Just Wow! Thanks!

  2. Alida Bunder says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. I once went with my sister who lives in Seattle to see the tulips on bloom. It was a magical moment that we shared.

  3. Nancy C says:

    Very inspiring. My thought is this though…..When the mother said “What might I have accomplished?” I think the reply could have been….she raised a daughter who cared enough to share the beautiful, inspiring garden with her mother! Nice story!

  4. Thanks for wonderful & thoughtful post, Amazing…

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