I was gifted a bulb, which I presumed to be a Narcissus, ready to be “forced.” I’ve never liked this idea of forcing a plant to bloom outside of its natural order or “Rtm” but I do love the results the bright, virginal beauty and sweet, heady aroma of the narcissus (in this case a paper white variety.)

Having received the bulb in early December, I was hoping for a christmas weekend bloom when our families would visiting. So I found some stones on which to anchor the bulb, soaked it in water for few days and set it in a window with midday sun.

The word narcissus is clearly of Greek origin, with the possibility of an early root “narke,” meaning numbness. This in reference to its narcotic effects — but please don’t try anything silly! Its poisonous effects are even more well documented.

Well, just as a watched pot doesn’t boil, my daily inspection of my bulb of promise offered few, and if any, mild, results. After a week or so a few green sprouts—Hooray! And gradually, err, slowly, the sprouts became stems, rather spindly truth be told. In hopes of speeding up the process, I would move the budding plant from room to room stalking the sun — my cats as my guide, sun-seeking pros as they are.

You may recall the myth of Narcissus, the beautiful young hunter who rejected the lovely nymph Echo. Later, lured to a pool where he saw his own reflection, he became intoxicated with his own beauty and was unable to tear himself away. Recognizing his love for this image could never be reciprocated, he committed suicide. Thus we have the term narcissism, for ego- or self-obsession, describing one utterly numbed to the world around him.

Meanwhile it is Christmas eve and all my efforts have resulted in a tall spring-green set of stalks topped with snow pea-like pods, like a pledge, brimming with future blossoms. Alas, not on time.
So christmas and family visits with its gifts, good food and cheer, came and went. No one but me missed the perfect bloom of the lone narcissus. Until later, 5 days later, in its own pace and timing — my bulb flowered! Two impossibly white and impeccably fashioned set of blooms have burst open and cast their sweet scent all over our living room like a joyous pall. It is indeed, numbingly, fabulously, intoxicating. And of course, it has arrived, in its own sweet time.