My hundred thousand bells of blue,
The splendour of the Spring,
They carpet all the woods anew
With royalty of sapphire hue;
The Primrose is the Queen, 'tis true.
But surely I am King!
The peerless Woodland King!
Loud, loud the thrushes sing their song;
The bluebell woods are wide;
My stems are tall and straight and strong;
From ugly streets the children throng,
They gather armfuls, great and long,
Then home they troop in pride-
With laughter and with pride!
It was such a wonderful day; the air was full of golden light and the sky of such a blueness as never had been seen before. Out of the palace gates he rode and he wore his crown, and his eyes were more brilliant than the jewels in it, and his smile was more radiant than a sunrise as he looked about him, for every breath he drew in was fragrant, every ugly place was hidden and every squalid corner filled with beauty, for it seemed as if the whole world were waving with Blue Flowers. The Land of the Blue Flower
For a week every year, our whole world waves with blue flowers. We go, day after day, down to the banks of a well-loved creek and plop down in the midst of an endless carpet of blue. The first day there, the children delight in re-discovering familiar landmarks. There is the tree that Trip and Christian hauled out into the middle of the creek years ago. It's still there, still bringing back memories of lots of time in the woods with faraway friends. There is the fallen trunk where we line up all the children for a picture every year. It's crumbled quite a bit in the past year. I don't think it will hold them all next year. We spread the blanket and break open the lunch basket. Even the food is always the same: cheese, crackers, grapes, and lots of pistachios. We sketch blue flowers and little white "Fairy Spuds." Someone always "accidentally" falls in the creek. We fill our winter-weary souls with the crisp blue breath of springtime. And it's never enough. We never want to leave and we always want to return.
Last year, after the bluebells had bloomed and faded, my friend Louise sent me an extraordinary book. The Land of the Blue Flower was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, beloved author of A Secret Garden. I read the book myself and then forced myself to wait to share it with my children until the bluebells bloomed this year. It is a classic fairy tale of love and hope and how we are nurtured by nature. In the Land of the Blue Flower, singular things came to pass.
Those who had wasted their days loitering or rioting were obliged to get up in the morning to work in their gardens, and finding that exercise and fresh air improved their health and spirits, they began to like it. Court ladies found it good for their complexions and tempers; busy merchants discovered that it made their heads clearer; ambitious students found that after an hour spent evening and morning over their Blue Flower beds they could study twice as long without fatigue. The children of the princes and nobles became so full of work and talk of the soil and their seeds that they quite forgot to squabble and be jealous of each other's importance at Court.The Land of the Blue Flower
And so it is every year at the bluebells. This year, we wandered down there a very winter-weary crew. Some of us still coughing, Karoline a full five pounds lighter than she'd been before the flu, tired to the bone of being cooped up inside and sick. And over the course of the week, we all bloomed. The sunshine and the sheer beauty of our surroundings worked a magic that medicine can't.
I was talking to my friend Linda around the middle of the week. I told her how I had it in me to pack everyone and everything up, hike the short hike into the woods and plop down on a tarp for the next few hours. Then, I had enough energy to walk back to the van and get us home. This was all followed by a nap. But while we were there, I smelled the fresh air and watched my children play. There was no agenda, just a creek to wade in, trees to climb, a natural world to get to know a little better. She told me she'd tried to persuade a couple of friends to come with her but they begged off, saying they were too tired and too stressed to take a day off. And Linda and I knew that that is precisely when one needs a day in the Land of the Blue Flower.
This week has been a beautiful medley of blue flowers and the sights and sounds of the papal visit. God is very near indeed. I see Him in my land of blue flowers. I hear Him in the voice of the Holy Father.
Burnett writes, "The earth is full of magic...Most men know nothing of it and so comes misery. The first law of the earth's magic is this one. If you fill your mind with a beautiful thought there will be no room in it for an ugly one. This I learned from you and from my brothers the stars. So I gave my people the Blue Flower to think of and work for. It lead them to see beauty and to work happily and filled the land with bloom. I their King, am their brother, and soon they will understand this and I can help them, and all will be well. They shall be wise and joyous and know good fortune.The Land of the Blue Flower
Everyone should have a Land of the Blue Flower, a place where Fairy Spuds welcome her and waving blue flowers remind her that hope and love are eternal and always within reach. Squinting across the creek at the endless fields of blue, I whispered a little prayer for the people who shun fairies. I do hope that they don't shun flowers, too.