There’s nothing particularly natural about snowdrops blooming during this week’s February thaw. Snowdrops aren’t native to New England, but they are a popular perennial in yards and gardens, given the jolt of hope they provide after another long winter. This year’s winter hasn’t been particularly natural, or normal: we’ve had relatively little snow, and these snowdrops are blooming a full two weeks ahead of last year. It just doesn’t seem right to have so little snow-cover and blooming snow-drops in February, an unsettling reminder that global climate change causes all sorts of unpredictable weirdness.
Year after year, snowdrops obediently bloom where they are planted: J and I aren’t gardeners, but every year we enjoy the perennials planted by our house’s previous inhabitants. Perennials are a bit spooky that way: their cellular memory easily outlasts the lives (or at least the addresses) of the folks who plant them, and their annual appearance serves as a reminder of time’s brevity. As much as we long for spring flowers in the depths of winter, when snowdrops appear, there’s always a sense of untimely surprise: you, already?
There’s nothing particularly natural about non-native, ornamental flowers blooming exactly where they were planted along the edge of a neighbor’s walled yard, but there’s something intrinsically natural about perennial tenacity. I once attended a housewarming party where the hosts asked their guests to bring any sort of flower bulb which they collected, mixed, and planted at random throughout their yard and garden: a sort of spring surprise. What kind of world do we live in where housewarmings never end, the ghosts of guests returning every year via the bursting bulbs they left behind?
Snowdrops aren’t native to New England, and neither are most New Englanders. Long after you and I have moved on to the grave or other climes, these tough, tenacious flowers will continue to bloom, naturally.