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The Daffodil Principle

The Daffodil Principle Several times my daughter had telephoned to say. "Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week. "I will come next Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when! the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain. As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail's pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her. "I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they've finished repairing the engine," she answered. "How far will we have to drive?" I asked cautiously. "Just a few ! blocks," Carolyn said cheerfully. So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. "I'll drive," Carolyn offered. "I'm used to this." We got into the car, and she began driving. In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of- the-World road heading over the top of the mountain. "Where are we going?" I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. "This isn't the way to the garage!" "We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils." "Carolyn," I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, "please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather." "It's all right, Mother," she replied with a knowing grin. "I know what I'm doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience." And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge and she was kidnapping me! I couldn't believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils, driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb. I muttered all the way.

After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds. We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert. On the far side of the church I saw a pine needle covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, hand lettered sign "Daffodil ! Garden." We each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt. Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different colored variety (I learned later

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