"The year started with the commonest of the primulas."
--John Richmond, Gardener, U.K.
Last week, primulas were on sale for sixty-seven cents at The Country Grocer. Twice I passed them by until I could no longer resist. I chose creamy yellow blossoms, the same colour as the wild ones on the Aran Islands where they call them by a more poetic name: primroses.
The first time I noticed the primroses, I was walking across a field of limestone towards the cliffs. Everything, including my mood, was grey. Then I saw the primroses. I was 27 and freshly heart-broken. I'd been wondering if I'd have the nerve to jump off the cliffs and into the churning Atlantic. But the moment I saw the tiny yellow flowers growing in a field of stone something shifted. If they can do it, I thought, so can I.
And they're back again. This time, they're called primulas. This time, I must drive across a field of asphalt to a strip mall to see them. Befitting of all things North American, they come in every shade of one's desire. I bought potting soil. I found terra cotta pots lying abandoned in the garden and scrubbed them clean. Soon the primulas were on the steps of the front porch, ready to greet visitors, I told myself. But now I know they are there for me.
A few days ago, the weather shifted. I awoke to find the yellow blossoms heavy with snow. But they were still alive. I brought them inside and put them near the electric fire. Every day I tend to their blossoms, deadheading the old and watching the new get ready to bloom.
Sometimes I forget my 27 year-old self was wiser than I thought. And so I will say this: The year has started with the commonest of primulas. But there is nothing common about them. Once, they taught a young woman never to underestimate a field of stone. Limestone. Asphalt. A broken heart. Anything can grow between the cracks.
Thank you for reading.