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Outdoor Learning: Dancing with the daffodils

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By DIANE STRAUSER ALVAREZ,
Master Naturalist and Camp Bayou Supporter

In Florida we do not get to walk through a meadow of glorious daffodils! Actually, there is a Daffodil Society in Florida, perhaps in honor of William Wordsworth and his “host of golden daffodils.” However, the flowers at my feet are not so large and obvious, though they bloom throughout the winter. The daisy fleabane in a small meadow next to my house have their own yellow and white glory. You just have to look closely and watch where you step.The oakleaf fleabane (scientific name of Erigeron quercifolius) grows in this area. At this time of year, the grass is still dormant (not growing taller), and the wildflowers have a chance to grow before the lawnmower returns.

I bought a pot of daffodils recently, and I learned that they require cold in order to bloom. During these last few weeks of cold weather, I left this pot on the back porch and now see 15 tiny blooms. Some Florida growers actually put them in the refrigerator for that purpose! These daffodils are not much like the quantity of large blooms that Wordsworth praised. England has different growing conditions for wildflowers. Many Florida wildflowers are so small as to be considered merely weeds, but they are tiny wonders.

Look up Wordsworth’s poem, by the first line: “I wandered lonely as a cloud.” Here’s the second stanza about the daffodils

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The final stanza ends with
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Here’s my version:
All around my feet I see
And notice in the lowly grass
Some daisy fleabane and with glee,
I praise with pleasure the tiny mass.
But as for dancing I shall pass.

This column is sponsored by Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center located in Ruskin at 4140 24th Street SE, 3 miles south of S.R. 674 off exit 240 W. on I-75. Email: campbayou@gmail.com or call (813) 641-8545 for more information.

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