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Spring: The Bear is Back

The Bear is Back!

                   Our Backyard Bear. 

 

Yes, our local bear is back--a sure sign of spring, along with a magnolia tree in full bloom, the lilac bushes budding out, and the lawn needing to be mowed. [Round 1 today!] But the focus of this entry is a story about the narcissus bulbs that are featured in the first paragraph of my best-known book, A Scattered People, where the text reads: "Every May when spring at last comes to western Massachusetts, a small patch of phantom lilies blooms in my garden near the swamp. The annual reappearance of these modest flowers gently calls to mind the lives of certain nineteenth-century Americans who preserved bulbs of this particular stock," at least one member in each of four generations taking bulbs along as they gradually made their way west from New England to California. You'll note I've call them "phantom lilies," the name my ancestors used for them. Indeed, I didn't realize they were a white variety of narcissus until a neighbor here in Massachusetts pointed that out to me. I feel a special affection for them because their final resting place, quite literally the end of the line for them, could have been a shady spot in my mother's front lawn in San Leandro, California. But when my mother died in 1982, I dug up the half dozen or so remaining bulbs. They were barely surviving, so scrawny that I feared they would simply fade away. But they have prospered here in Massachusetts, proliferating into a large patch of flowers, some with yellow blooms, others the white kind I remember from my youth.

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