Gifts brought touch of spring to winter

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My sister, Mandy, and my friend, Margo, gave me the most wonderful gifts for Christmas, gifts that kept giving long after the holiday passed. In fact, it was like watching a new present unwrap itself as the days stretched into January and now February.

The first gift arrived when Margo showed up for yoga class one Wednesday in December carrying a beautiful clear glass bowl filled with smooth, polished rocks. Sitting on top of the stones were three narcissus bulbs.

“Take this home and fill it with water,” she said.

So, I carried the bowl of rocks home, filled it with water, set it in its matching saucer behind my kitchen sink and waited. In a short while, green shoots rose from the center of the bulbs and began their climb upward. Every day or so I added water and watched as the plants strung to life.

It was great fun to see their progress and exciting when the first hint of blooms to come appeared. In the midst of enjoying this unfolding taking place in my kitchen, a gift came from my sister, Mandy.

When I opened the box, I discovered a pot containing a huge amaryllis bulb along with instructions for getting it to bloom. I followed the watering directions and placed it beside the glass bowl that now held plants at least six inches tall.

Throughout the rest of the Christmas holiday, I watered both gifts as directed and observed the subtle changes taking place. A few days before the New Year, the narcissus blooms were almost ready to open, but the amaryllis bulb looked just like it did the day it arrived.

We were out of town for a long New Year’s weekend and when we got back four days later, the first thing I noticed was that a miracle happened while we were gone. The narcissus plants sported bright blossoms that reached up past the bottom of my window. And, the amaryllis, closed so tightly when we left, now had green shoots of its own and the beginning of what was going to be a bloom.

“Wow, look what happened while we were gone,” I said to my husband as he hauled stuff in from the car. “That’s kind of amazing isn’t it?”

He stopped to looked and agreed that it was neat to see the progress of the plants.

That was more than a month ago and my gifts continue to delight. The narcissus plants grew to maybe a foot or so and produced a bunch of paper-white blossoms before they finished. Saturday afternoon I carried them outside and put them in the ground. Next year I’ll enjoy them in their new home.

Miss Amaryllis is not nearly done with her show. Three buds holding the promise of flowers appeared. The first one opened with one bloom and then three more huge bright red flowers. Now the second one is open and will have four flowers. Near the bottom of the plant, another bud lies waiting its turn.

I smile when I walk past my window and see that amaryllis smiling back at me. The directions say it will bloom again and again.

As I watched the narcissus and amaryllis deliver a touch of spring in the dead of winter, I thought about the perfection of nature, how it brings us such joy and invites us to marvel at the miraculous way it all works in perfect harmony.

Now isn’t that just about the best gift a person could receive from a sister and a friend.