An Unexpected T.R. McClure


My brother tells me when I was little I went around telling everybody my birthday was March 26. He implies my enthusiasm might have been a bit annoying. But I like having a March birthday! In like a lamb, out like a lion kind of mentality. Even if it snows, you know it won't last long. Every year I know exactly where to find the first crocus.
Along the garage.

And the budding daffodils? Under the maple trees. Did you know Southerners call them buttercups? I didn't, until I read Patricia Bradley's March 28 Harlequin Heartwarming post. Jonquils, daffodils, buttercups. A welcome sight whatever the name.

Last year I called a Nashville florist (I'm in Pennsylvania), intending to order a bouquet of daffodils for my daughter Launa's February birthday. Like Holly in Wanted: The Perfect Mom, she and her husband had just left the military.
                                             Wanted: The Perfect Mom at Harlequin

They settled in Tennessee. "Do you mean buttercups?" I detected a note of confusion in the florist's southern drawl.

"No, daffodils. You know, the yellow flowers that bloom in the spring?" I'm still not sure what my daughter got.

Anyway, I digress. My birthday was a week past, the day before Easter this year. 

Coming back from the kennel after feeding my husband's beagles, I returned to the house through an arch that was one of the first things added to the yard when we built our home years ago. The white pines on either side are wide and tall and protect the house from winds. My mind is full of preparations for my upcoming book release (June 1!) and scenarios for the next book when I happened to glance down.


At my feet, tiny white flowers poke through the layer of pine needles, their petals nodding and swaying in the slight breeze.

Where did they come from? The sweet scent of a purple hyacinth drifts on the morning air. I know that hyacinth. When my daughters were small, my husband and the girls would visit the local green house a day or two before Easter, surprising me Sunday morning with potted tulips, hyacinths, or lilies on the kitchen table. (When my recently-married daughter Kristen told me she informed her husband he is to continue the tradition, I smiled. Funny what kids remember from their childhoods.)

Four months later I would plant the bulbs somewhere in the yard. But the delicate white flowers scattered among the brown pine needles? I don't remember planting them. I don't know where they came from.

I kneel on the walkway, savoring the moment, savoring the unexpected gift.

What Can I say, It's Spring in the Northeast

The onion snow comes after onion sets are planted in the garden. Naturally two days later I wake to snow on the ground. March's lambs on opposite ends of the month were chased by lions this year. I run up to the archway still in robe and slippers. The wind whips my robe. The happy little petal faces have disappeared. A few green stems poke through the light covering of snow. The cold was too much for their delicate sensibilities.

The next morning the snow is gone and by ten o'clock the temperature is 51. I stare out the kitchen window. Did they come back? I run through the yard. And yes, I am again in my robe and slippers. It is, after all, a rainy Monday and I have nowhere to go but the fictional town of Bear Meadows.

They are back. Except now they are blue. I kneel down, cradling a bloom in my palm. White, with blue veins.

Snowdrops? The description says they are always white. Squill? I've never heard of scilla siberica until I looked up spring flowers on the internet. Maybe one of our readers can say.

Doesn't matter. As Juliet said to Romeo, "A rose by any other name smells as sweet." I accept this unexpected birthday gift, this reminder that even in the face of adversity there is beauty and strength. Sometimes we don't realize how strong we are until we're tested. True for these little flowers, true for human beings.
So give yourself a little gift of time today. Find a good book, a quiet place, and...



  1. Oh, T.R., what a beautiful post! I love the gifts of spring.

  2. Happy belated birthday, T.R. and best wishes with your upcoming release!

  3. And like Kate said, happy belated birthday. My grandma's was on the 26th, too. She was pretty special, too, so it must be an excellent day.

    1. Obviously I've always thought so :). thanks, Liz.

  4. Happy birthday a little late! I love spring as well and am amazed at how resilient nature can be. The weather in Chicago can be pretty unpredictable; we go from snow one weekend to 75 and sunny the next. Our plants and trees don't know what to do!

    1. And neither do we! Winter coat? Short sleeves? Thanks for the birthday wishes. I try to stretch out the celebration as long as possible.

  5. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! Your post is so timely as I have a crazy busy day ahead of me. Thank you for reminding me to take the time to appreciate the little things!

  6. Such lovely pictures. Lucky you to get the photos before the plants disappeared. Enjoy the spring. I miss the beginnings of plants poking out. Here in the Phoenix area, everything seems to always be in full bloom.

  7. I find it so interesting to visually see the differences between spring in the East and in the West through everyone's blog posts.
    I miss the spring flowers we used to have where I grew up in Oregon. Crocus that came up right through the snow. Daffodils and tulips. But I don't miss the rain and snow.

  8. Thank you for mentioning my blog, T.R. and happy belated birthday greetings! Those blue flowers look like hyacinths...maybe wild ones? Loved this post and am glad you'll know to order buttercups next year. lol

  9. Good Morning! (I guess it's afternoon where you are.) Love your photos. We (In Oregon) also have that little blue flower, also in white and pale pink. As far as I know, they're volunteers - something wild that just shows up. We call them blue bells, but I don't think that's correct. Love your husband's tradition with your daughters, and what a nice thing to travel down the generations. We have a beautiful day, so I'm going to enjoy it on the porch with the dog and a book. (I should be working, but don't tell anyone.)

    1. Good afternoon! The dog and the book sounds like a good idea to me.

  10. What a wonderful surprise! Happy belated birthday.


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