The first step is this: a tiny green shoot pushes miraculously through crumbly soil. Inert dirt is moved aside by a newly living thing, thrusting up from its fecund bulb under the ground, warmed by spring. In the rhythms of nature and the seasons, it’s time.
The green shoot lengthens, grows, expands, divides, multiplies and becomes a sheaf of green leaves. Deep inside this bundle of leaves another shoot forms, and in time it too grows upwards and outwards. It wants the light.
Soon there’s a tight-wrapped bud on the end of a stem, and beside it, others. A crocus likes a crowd. They grow in groups. Clumps, some say, but that hefty word belies their beauty.
The bud opens and out come pale white petals, edged – merely tinged – with yellow. The flower is a bell upturned, a ball gown upturned, tulip-shaped but not of the brash tulip-colouring. The crocus flower is subtle, in its colours and its scent, its small group of friends, and its delicate almost-transparency. The crocus flower manages to look always new-born, fresh and dewy.
Soon, if the bulbs have been artfully scattered, the clump of crocus will be joined by others, and in a while a carpet of them might spread across a lawn or under leafy trees. Or it might be that there’s just one precious clump, bulbs carefully chosen and ordered from a catalogue, planted in a pot or a sunny step, eagerly anticipated.
And here it finally is, with spring, the crocus flower. Paper thin, creamy white, the yellow edge like lemon rind. A tiny cup of nectar and scent, nodding with her sisters in a spring wind.