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Kind of long, yes, but! well worth the read as this could change your life and be a new beginning for you. Why not? You have nothing to lose. ox

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day - and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

“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 the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain.

As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail’s pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. 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 darling 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.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they’ve finished repairing the engine,” she answered.

“How far will we have to drive?” I asked cautiously.

“Just a few blocks,“Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. “I’ll drive,” Carolyn offered. “I’m used to this.” We got into the car, and she began driving.

In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. “Where are we going?” I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. “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, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, “please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather.”

“It’s all right, Mother,” She replied with a knowing grin. “I know what I’m doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge - and she was kidnapping me! I couldn’t believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils - driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb.

I muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, lettered sign “Daffodil Garden.”

We each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. 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 (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note - above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) “But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me - even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Who?” I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, “And how, and why, and when?”

“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 the house, my mind buzzing with questions. 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. One bulb at a time.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts - simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. 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 inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principle 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 world.

“Carolyn,” I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendors we had seen, “it’s as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for more than thirty years. One bulb at a time! And that’s the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth! All, just one bulb at a time.”

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “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 wise daughter put the car into gear and summed up the message of the day in her direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!

It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. 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 tomorrow?”

by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

Sent to you with love from Kelly Robertson, by way of Mr. Bob Proctor, her #1 Hero.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • This is absolutely beautiful, and completely right-on.

      My husband and I have kind of come to this principle together—he used to be the sort to take great gulps of his goals and dreams without ever quite accomplishing what he originally set out to do. I, on the other hand, used to get so bogged down in the details that I would lose sight of the bigger picture.

      Over the last several years we've managed to temper each other quite a bit, and learned to appreciate the other's approach. Now we're taking the time together to appreciate the baby steps along the way, and recognizing that there is just as much beauty in the journey as there is in the destination.

      Thanks for this, Kelly!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • I have read this before but thank you for a beautiful reminder of what we can do one person at a time.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • That’s beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing that, Kelly. I could just picture the route that was driven and the idea that somewhere in San Bernardino exists such a lovely place, even if it is for only three weeks out of the year. Well, at least the visual is there for three weeks, but the beauty of that place and of the heart of that woman exists all the time.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • here’s a link to their garden.  

      [Link Removed]


      Chocolatier, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tuliplady wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • Wow!
      I’ve read this before, but it gives me new inspiration every time.

      I only have two small town lots not five acres, but this is what I want to achieve with tulips eventually.  Every year I plant some more.  Nothing like thousands at a time, just what my budget can handle every fall.  Some day I’ll get there.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenni0811 wrote Mar 30, 2009
    • It was wonderful to read this. For me, it affirms all the steps I am taking, one accomplished, another begun, to see me towards the goal of my life transition that I have set for myself. In my mind’s eye, I can see the beautiful “5 acres of daffodils” I hope to reach.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mjmurphy wrote Apr 4, 2009
    • I love daffodils! and your description of the garden experience is just beautiful, it made me feel like I was actually there with you. thank you!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Carolnphil wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • As a new colon cancer survivor, envisioning five acres of daffodils plus other fragrant flowers, is a beautiful thing.  

      Last year while undergoing Chemo treatment I experienced my first American Cancer Society daffodil campaign.  When the volunteer handed me my own daffodil I wondered if I would be a cancer victim or a survivor.  

      I tried to remain as positive as I could and encouraged the other patients to think of ourselves as survivors.  Now, a year later, I am a survivor.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Paris Mano wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • I have read this many times and saved it to my computer. I absolutely love the picture of all the daffodils. Great story.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Gloria Alice Dipiiro wrote Apr 11, 2009
    • This was so beautiful - thank you Kelly for the most amazing walk I felt as if I was there with you, too.  

      tuliplady, thank you so much. For I feel that every plant we plant we are giving back to our most beautiful world - instead of taking away from it.  

      Tuliplady, what a blessing you are. Not only giving back to mother earth, but to birds, to others as they see the beauty when they look at your bulbs blooming... and you are giving memories - just as Kelly’s heart felt one with her family.

       Sending Joy



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Paula Bertucci wrote Apr 11, 2009
    • Kelly,

       Thank you for sharing that amazing story...much needed today...a reminder that each day if we just keep on going and doing the work of achieving our goals..our dreams..one day they will and can happen.So very glad you are a part of this community of amazing women!!

      warm regards,
      Paula



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