Valley Voices

Shirley Bruegman: It’s spring, when daffodils – and little girls of all ages – blossom with potential

Recent warm days have caused trees and flowers to awaken after a long winter’s nap. It seems I can hear them shouting, “Spring is here.” Just the other day, while meandering through the garden, there in the planter bordering the sidewalk, I saw it from the corner of my eye: a smiling yellow daffodil peeking out to say hello.

This time of year brings back vivid memories of the years we lived on a little lake off Piedra Road going toward Pine Flat Dam. I traveled the legendary Blossom Trail to and from campus each day. When Valentine’s Day was approaching, I would begin my watch for the first sighting.

February unfolded, and Mother Nature worked her magic, transforming dormant trees into beautiful works of art. First the plum orchards would flaunt their gorgeous white blooms, then a few days later, the peach fields were ablaze in brilliant pink.

Nestled together, they resembled a giant checkerboard of contrasting colors. Often during those few weeks it was not unusual to see cars parked along the shoulder of the road, tripods strategically anchored, determined to get that perfect close-up shot.

We enjoyed living in the country, where we often ate breakfast with little creatures joining us, their noses pressed against the window. But, being closer to a golf course and two adorable granddaughters, we were nudged to move closer to town.

We decided to settle in the Sunnyside area. Our new routine included picking up Brianne and Kaitlyn each Sunday for a few hours of spoiling. Two little girls, only 20 months apart in age, with different and special personalities.

One Sunday afternoon, we stopped at the hardware store for barbecue repair parts and wound up filling the trunk of the car with baskets of tulip and daffodil bulbs instead. Their inquisitive little minds couldn’t comprehend how flowers could possibly grow from what looked like the onions their mother used for cooking. It was a teachable moment.

They would learn how flowers come from bulbs, and it might be a good way to keep them busy for a portion of the afternoon. With a couple of the smallest trowels available and the bulbs, we continued the trek home. They couldn’t wait to change clothes and begin digging holes for burying their newfound treasures.

Fall and winter months came and went. Then, one day the following February, it happened. I telephoned my daughter that they should expect a surprise when they arrived for Sunday night dinner. Their car turned into the driveway. Child seats unbuckled, they were pointed in the direction of the planter areas. With squeals of laughter, their little legs ran across the lawn to examine the fruits of their labor.

That was many years ago. Each spring, the daffodils are the first flowers to pop through the earth. They are my signs of spring – reminders of Sunday afternoon good times, playing dress-up in Nana’s shoes and costume jewelry and reading favorite stories over and over again. Or, just hanging out with PaPa in the pool.

Despite the sneezing and wheezing, the blossom season remains my favorite time of year. I realize it is brief, much like our lives. This past football season I noticed how when the referee declared a two-minute warning everyone scrambled to make the most of those precious remaining seconds.

They wanted to score, douse the coach with Gatorade, and take home the trophy. As I reflected on the warnings I have received and not heeded, I wished I would have done many things differently. However, such as most people I know, I tried to do my best.

The granddaughters continue to bloom in their own unique ways. And so must I. A fresh bouquet of bright yellow daffodils, picked just this morning, will be the centerpiece on tonight’s table. Those flowers, planted years ago, will serve as a reminder that I should not allow myself to wilt but enjoy the many seasons yet to come.

Shirley A. Bruegman is retired vice chancellor of State Center Community College District. She can be reached at