I meant to write this post a month ago, when I seen those green shoots starting to poke their heads out, sniffing at Spring, so I better write it now before it’s not relevant. I think daffodils have to be one of my most favourite flowers. They remind me of happy things. I mean look at them, on a cold, dreary wintery morning, they are a little flash of sunshine, a little beacon of light on a dull day. I promise you when I see them, even when I’m in a foul mood, they give me that little ping of “YAY!”, even if it is only for a second (on a particular rotten day like) and I always think of Wordsworth’s poem…
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
They remind me of my Grandad, who had them and tulips all over his gardens. Even when the garden was reduced back to become part of the cow’s field, the daffodils left behind still shot up, hardy and strong every year. I loved my Grandad to bits and pieces, I loved his gardens and so I love daffodils for reminding me of him.
Most of all though, daffodils remind me of my first hard working, big girl job. I’m talking money in an envelope, into your hand at the end of the week….woooo!! I remember seeing a flyer pinned up in Killeen’s shop, daffodil pickers wanted! Daffodil pickers! Bejayzus! Just up the road in Croghan too, over the Easter holiday. I thought, how hard can it be… I’ll mention it to Ash.
God it was two or three of the best weeks I’ve ever had. We thought we were the bees knees…proper working folk at 14/15. Every night I’d get me packed lunch ready and make sure I had a supply of plastic bags for the day my wellies finally gave in and got a leak. Every morning I’d be up at 7, like a real manin (pronounced man-een…I can’t for the life of me figure out where the i with a fada is on this yoke!) horse the porridge down and cycle up to Ash’s to meet her. We’d cycle up to Croghan and down behind the football pitch where fields of daffodils were waiting to be picked. Frank was our “boss”, a fairly gruff dude from Daingean, he gave us a run through of how to pick a daff. Em yep, you can’t just pick any old daffodil, there were requirements to be met…these babies were shipping to Engerlish supermarkets for selling ya know!
We’d spend probably from 8 til 11, when you’d have a tea break, if you were lucky enough to have a flask, bent over lonnnnng drills, seeking out unbloomed daffodils, at least 25cms long, to pick and bunch into groups of 10 and then stack in your crate. We got 25p a bunch…£25 a crate. This may well have been some kinda slave-like type labour and in fairness conditions were fairly poor compared to the luxuries pickers have today….wellies, wetsuits and sleeeeves provided!!! On site toilets!!! Pfffft!! If you were a girl picker you’d to take your friend with you to find decent bush to hide behind and watch out for the lads perving, and God help any of us if we needed a poo!! Still we had great craic. At about 12.30, we’d all quit for lunch and head to the beaten down old hayshed for a bitta warmth. I say warmth, but generally it would still freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Some laugh then lads, sandwich swapping, how many crates have you filled, who’s shifting who, where’s them two snuck off to, truth or dare and the odd ruck. Frank might even crack a smile during this time.
It was hard work, mostly being bent over all day and with wearing gloves being a hinderance, you tended not to wear them and ended up with numb, battered fingers due to the cold and thorns or nettles (depending on how near the hedges your drills were). That, was the hardest work, ‘cos you get good at picking the ‘dils. Ash, myself, Darren and Mike got so good, Frank selected us for picking elsewhere…..ooooooh! We’d meet in Rhode at 6.30 and a bus would pick us up and take us off to the far side of Rathangan for the day. One day, a lorry picked us up! Yep, a lorry! I’m talking a 7.5 tonne tarp covered lorry. The four of us were loaded up into the back of it, no windows and only crates to slide around on…no seatbelts here lads…and driven off to God knows where (turned out to be the far side of Tullamore). Frank and his son would already be there, so we’d stick together and every evening, he’d drive us back to Rhode, with a pitstop at his house for tea, cakebread and a fry up. Those were my favourite nights.
It’s funny isn’t it….some mornings not knowing where you were heading, travelling round in the back of a lorry, not getting home til between 5 and 8 in the evening….all this without a seatbelt or a phone! (It’s also crazy thinking on our parents parts too…like trust us to do all this but try and get them to let you to the bouncered up Harriers at the weekend…forgit aboud it!) Our parents never knew sometimes, where we were or who we were with,yet trusted we’d stay alive and safe for a day. Seems nuts now. I wonder will my Monkey ever experience anything like this? Sadly the world is a crazier place now, I think.
What’s your favourite flower and why?
God, Spring would be woeful sad without daffodils.