19 April 2008

Sowing and Uprooting

There is a haunted house just down Boiling Springs Road from where I live.

At least that's what the kids on Highland Drive call it.

It's an abandoned home. Built just 20 years ago (by my former choir teacher, Mr. Schimp), it is now abandoned, sold to the state of Tennessee. Two years from now a four-lane highway will run through that spot.

Right now it is an empty place--nearly haunted. Last fall two trees on the property fell, one of them crushing the garage. The back door is open. You can walk in at any time and tour the home. The paint looks great and the wood floors are shiny. It is a house built with a lot of love--and lived in passionately until about four years ago.

I was walking on the property a month ago, and I noticed daffodils everywhere. What a shame, I thought. A year from now bulldozers will come and cover them with asphalt.

Last Saturday I decided to do something about it. I took a plastic bag and a spade with me on my afternoon walk. Owen rode his bike. In broad daylight, I walked up to a clump of daffodils. With four thrusts of my spade, I uprooted the whole lot and deposited about 90 daffodil bulbs in my sack. I have to admit that I felt somewhat guilty for "stealing," considering that these daffodils belonged to the state highway department and its giant bulldozers.

As I walked home, I wondered what to do with all these daffodils. I stopped by the pump house and planted six bulbs along its block walls. That still left me with almost 90 bulbs.

I walked up to the wedding site. I planted daffodils there four years ago. This year there were bunches instead of single flowers. Near the wedding site, however, I found thorns getting a head start on the other plants growing in the woods. I put down the spade and found a pickaxe.

For the next three hours I dug up thorn bushes. I built a fire. Every time I found a thorn, I dug it up. I threw the thorns on the fire (I just love the crackling sounds that thorns make when they are being burned). Into each hole I placed a daffodil bulb and covered it with dirt.

This went on the rest of the afternoon. It was getting harder and harder to find thorns. Meanwhile the woods were filling with green daffodil stems (the flowers had already wilted).

As the number of thorns dropped, I thought of the prayer of St. Francis
Where there is hatred, let me so love
Where there is injury, pardon

It thrilled me. This is what life is about, I thought, whether you own property adjacent to a 'haunted house' or not. We are here to rescue the Daffodil Bulbs of this world from the bulldozer, and we are meant to sow them wherever we dig up thorns.

I went back to the haunted house the next day and got a new batch of bulbs. I haven't sown them yet. Hard as it may be to believe, there are still thorns in my woods--there is still work to do. It should keep my weekends busy for the rest of the spring.


April McNulty said...

Its seems like it has taken them a while to build that highway. I'm glad they are going to do it, because 109 is really dangerous to drive on with all those semi-trucks. At the same it is sad that some houses have to be torn down.

Joelle said...

You can never have too many daffodils. My family used to plant them in our woods (in MI) and they've multiplied. I miss those spring flowers. They're such bright, cheery, happy little guys.