It was the season of daisies, spring was in late bloom, and the warm breath of an anxious summer gave me an early morning hello. The sky was a gentle shade of springtime blue, and cotton candy clouds made their way to nowhere—a day I couldn’t resist being lazy. In search of a bit of inspiration, I grabbed my copy of, Selected Poems by Henry David Thoreau, and walked to the park
Washington Park, and the adjacent zoo, in my hometown of Michigan City, Indiana, is gorgeous this time of year. A gentle breeze blew across the clear calm of Lake Michigan, past the sculpted sands of a deserted beach, and ruffled my graying hair. In the distance, a lion welcomed in the day with a mighty roar—as macaws, peacocks, and ring tailed monkeys chimed in, not to be out done by this king of beast.
To my surprise, the park was all but empty except for a young mother who sat on a cool carpet of green rocking a newborn in her arms. She kept a watchful eye on her other child, whose curly locks of golden hair, and precocious giggle, reminded me of a young Shirley Temple. Her daughter, who must have been four, was lost in a world of magic—chasing fairies, dancing, and talking to leprechauns—or so I imagined.
I watched this enchanted child dance to the rhythm of the day as flecks of shimmered sunshine pierced the luscious emerald canopy—the golden hues fluttering about her like translucent butterflies.
Twirling barefoot in a sea of daisies, her yellow sundress took on the shape of a flower as she began to sing—accompanied only by a robin’s song.
“Buttercup, Buttercup, I love you. Buttercup, Buttercup, do you love me too. Buttercup, Buttercup, it’s time to wake up. Buttercup, Buttercup…”
Soothed by the lullaby melody, the scent of lilacs and early morning tulips, I leaned against an ancient oak and turned to my favorite Thoreau poem, Mist, and read.
Fountain-head and source of rivers,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,
Bear only perfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men’s fields!”
The spell cast on me by the day was broken when I heard the mother call, “Buttercup—Buttercup, it’s time to go.”
I looked up from my page into the sparking blue eyes of innocence now standing before me—a bouquet of daisies in hand.
“Hello little one,” I said. “Is your name Buttercup?”
“That’s what everyone calls me,” she said with a giggle in her voice. “What’s your name?”
“Everyone calls me Terry.”
“Terry, these are for you.” And she thrust the bouquet of daises into my hand.
“What are these for?” I asked a bit perplexed.
“They’re for you silly.”
I let out a laugh. “No-no-no honey, I mean why are you giving them to me?”
Buttercup smiled a child’s toothless smile and said, “Because you’re here.”
“Thank you very much, Buttercup.”
“You’re most welcome,” she said with the voice of an angel. “Bye.”
As she ran back toward her mother, I took in the intoxicating aroma of kindness, and a warm tear trickled down my cheek. It was the first time in my life anyone had ever acknowledged my existence with a gift for no other reason than I was here.
I had come to the park to find a bit of inspiration in a poem, and instead I found it in the heart of a child.
Terry Elkins (whyguy)