As we were finishing another school year, in the spring of '66, my sister and I and some of our fellow passengers on the school bus realized the cowslips were in bloom in a marsh along the road between my grandparents farm and the school. We were pretty animated about this discovery and asked the bus driver if he would stop and let us pick them. Lefty Summers, a wonderful bus driver who was willing to make safe allowances for the youth in his charge, agreed to stop the bus.
My sister and I, flower children from an earlier time, and a few older high school kids with brightly forming minds of their own - the beautiful, black-haired Dorothy among them - waded into the ditch and came back up with armloads of yellow cowslips. Then, amid unprecedented enthusiasm we rode on to school, talking to each other with a renewed joy for life apparent in the faces of everyone on that big orange bus. A few minutes later we filed out of the bus following a trail of unruly cowslips, strays that had fallen in the aisle between the seats.
Later, as I walked up the stairs and into the main hall, I saw cowslips strewn on the smooth hardwood floor in front of the principals' office - left there by some of the older kids along with drops of water from the stems. Out of the office came Lefty our beloved bus driver who had, it appeared, been called to task for what those in authority saw as a poor decision. He didn't appear upset, he just strode across those flowers and on down the hall. I stood there and watched, hoping he didn't pay a price or feel remorse for his choice. It was the best choice he ever made for this young girl's life.
My sister and I would sometimes bring cowslips to my grandmother, not for eating (although they are edible from what I understand), but for putting in a vase. I recently mentioned them in a two-part micropoem about an afternoon visit to my grandparent's farm:
... screen door opens to small faces / withered hands tenderly place drooping cowslips in a green vase
... crossed legs cradle a favorite book / on the page a grizzly bear scoops salmon from a stream / afternoon seeps through etched glass
Cowslips are also known as marsh marigolds. The photograph is mine.
what a lovely story! I've never seen a cowslip... maybe someday, but if I do, I bet I'll remember the kindness of your bus driver. Wish more people were like him.ReplyDelete
Why, thank you! I wish he were still here to tell him how much I appreciate his kindness and understanding of what it means to be young and fully alive! Yes, the world could benefit from more people like him.Delete
I didn't realize they were the same as marsh marigolds. This is a relief to me. Because I never wanted to call them by name, unsure if they were Cow Slips or Cows' Lips. I still don't know.ReplyDelete
They are cow slips. No lips involved here. I hope that news is not too difficult to bear... :) So glad you dropped by...Delete
Murr, I have done more investigating and it depends on where you live and what your folk lore is, apparently. I'm going with cow slips as the cows can slip on them... :))Delete
Hello Teresa! Wonderful yellow flowers for Easter! I think it's fun that Murr Brewster thought it might be cows' lips. She's right. Now I don't know either! ´)ReplyDelete
Thank you for that lovely story about you and the other kids and the bus driver. What a wonderful man he was. He understood children.
I have not yet written about cowslips, but I mean to. (I've got a good source from folklore). I have written about Marsh Marigold, and you can search it on the Thyra-blog. The name has something to do with Virgin Mary. Also called kingcup in English. It is a more rare plant here in DK, but very beautiful, with petals like yellow butter in the meadows.
Maybe cowslips is called Marsh Marigold in some places? The name is usually primula, primrose...(Latin Caltha palustris)
Dear Teresa, have a Happy Easter together
with lovely Buddy - and thank you for your never failing kindness.
HI Grethe! So good to hear from you. The bus driver allowed for other things, like signing on the bus, usually some country and western. :) I shall look into your marsh marigolds and yes, I have done further investigation only to discover it remains even in the natural world a bit of a mystery with each side claiming to know its origin which I did also prematurely. I grew up with cow slips, but others do see it as cows lips. It's all very confusing. Even Thoreau gets into the act!Delete
Happy Easter, Grethe! Thank you, dear Grethe. :)
Oh those are beautiful flowers, I am sure I have seen them blooming before but never got this close to appreciate them in detail. Thank goodness for people like the bus driver, the world would be so much less without them.ReplyDelete
I agree, Linda. It''s folk like that dear bus driver that we could use a whole lot more of.Delete
A wonderful memory. Hahaha...thought they were Cows Lips too!ReplyDelete
Well, you are in fine company, Lynn... see my replies to Grethe (Thyra) and Murr. :)Delete
I have only ever known them as marsh marigolds, which grow in profusion near water. I think the bus driver was sweet to do that, probably knew it wouldn't be appreciated by the higher ups, but that the kids would really love it. Thanks for the great story, Teresa. :-)ReplyDelete
It is a fine memory and I"m certain I'm not the only one who still holds it, and the memory of him, very fondly. Thanks, Jan.Delete
That reminds me of my childhood when my younger siblings and I would walk the ditches in the springtime looking for wild asparagus and daisies. What could be better than free veggies and flowers!ReplyDelete
What, indeed! Thank you for sharing that wonderful memory.Delete
Ms. Sparrow said very eloquently what I remember as well.ReplyDelete
Hi Kittie, I'm so glad to see you here ... you have such rich childhood memories...Delete
I loved this, and the lively discussion. I remember my parents stopping the car so they could go into a couple of ditches to cut pussy willows. Now I wouldn't know where to find them.ReplyDelete
I haven't seen pussy willows in many years... I'm going to see if I can remedy that... :)Delete
Beautiful ode to spring. Have not seen cowslips in years. Neither have I seen pussy-willows in ages -- like Blissed-Out Grandma mentions above. But your mentions of spring and waterways reminds me I should check out the watercress in the big spring up by Climax. There one can finds tons of fresh watercress in the early spring -- like now. -- barbaraReplyDelete
Your trip up to that big spring sounds fun. I hope the watercress are growing like mad. :)Delete
What a gorgeous story and, you know, i have encountered 'cowslips' many times in my reading and just now realised that I never knew what they were! I tink 'wild daffodils' (ahem) is the closest we have in Australia. Hoorah for Lefty! The quiet revolutionary. xReplyDelete
Welcome, Jen! so glad you found my site. And thanks for your generous words. Yes, Lefty was a quiet revolutionary - perfectly put.Delete
Fun story and memory. Things are so different now, you're afraid to even speak to a child. I remember a similar stop for ice cream at school years end. Probably a long lost practice.ReplyDelete
Yes, things are very different and to the detriment of all of us, particularly children. Fear governs rather than love. My sons had end of the year stops at the DQ, but I doubt that's practiced now, either. What a shame.Delete
Adults and children often see the same event so differently, don't they? I'm sorry that the driver got in trouble for sharing your youthful enthusiasm. That is a deep lesson for a young mind.ReplyDelete
Most school administrators are not known for their tolerance of young people's views on life. As a former teacher, I know this...Delete
Such a touching vignette from your life, Teresa. I have this vision of girls emerging from the ditch with your golden treasures. Acts of heroism come in all forms, don't they?ReplyDelete
They do, indeed, Penny. He remains a sort of hero for me. I'm rediscovering more about this man as I remember and ask questions of family... He was the real deal.Delete
A spring favorite, they shout out lots of joyReplyDelete
Yes, they do! :))Delete
We typically find them in May in our area. They are one of the best spring flowers (very difficult to move successfully-I've tried several times in restoration projects) and are often associated with black flies (they both bloom at the same time). It sounds like you might have had the best bus driver ever, and it sounds like your principal needed to find a sense of humor.ReplyDelete
Impossible to remove and transplant, as I discovered through the years with most wildflowers.Delete
I believe he was the best bus driver ever. a really amazing man. He deserves another post of his own... and I just might do that.
Now that's a great story and an even better picture!ReplyDelete
Glad you liked my story, OF. Are you still in CR?Delete
I am home and sick going on 10 days. I never get sick.Delete
I'm so sorry to hear that. Sometimes, changes in climate and place can wreak havoc, it seems. Take care... keep me posted...Delete
You've triggered another fun memory for me. When I was in school they still allowed students to be bus drivers. Tony, our bus driver, was a student and he didn't have a car. So he would drive the school bus when he went out on a date. The idea of him picking up his girlfriend and driving to a movie--in a school bus--still makes me smile.ReplyDelete
I am so glad you told me that story, Bill. I love it! How cool is that? The things we do for love... :))Delete
How,On Earth, Does A Bus Driver Get The Nickname Lefty? Whatever The Reason (I hope he wasn't British & Drove on the wrong side of The Road!)Whatever: The Man Was A Star.ReplyDelete
I don't recall ... his real name was Darrell. :) Yes, he was a star. Thanks so much, Tony.Delete
Those really are pretty! I can see how they would be a very popular spring flower. When I was a kid here it was a big thing to pick early flowers for our mothers, and there were plenty around then.ReplyDelete
That bus driver was also an educator, wasn't he!
He certainly was .... Thanks, Montucky.Delete
Love the story - and I certainly hope Lefty didn't get into much trouble. It seems that children today don't get much joy in school. Probably part of the reason our schools are failing. (My son did have a teacher who often showed movies in class, but they didn't pertain to the subject. He just didn't want to teach.) This city-raised girl doesn't think she has ever seen cowslips, but maybe I have.ReplyDelete
I hope not, too, Cherie ... I never heard. Our schools are in a very sad state from what I understand. How do we expect children to succeed when our education system has become so dysfunctional?Delete
Dear Teresa, what a cherished memory this must be. One that brings back to you your grandmother as well as Lefty. It's reminded me of a truly generous bus driver I knew when in grade school. In April, I'm going to post a story about him and his understanding of my childhood physical woes. Peace.ReplyDelete
Yes, it remains among my favorite memories from my youth. He was such a good soul.I'm looking forward to reading your new piece. Happy Easter weekend, Dee.Delete
Dear Teresa, with your story as an impetus, I posted on Wednesday a story from my childhood about a kind bus driver. You might enjoy reading it:Delete
A lovely story Teresa, it reminded me of Anne of Green Gables, don't you think Anne would have done something just like that? What a wonderfully uplifting sight it must have been to see all of you young girls with arms-full of cowslips, laughing and jostling and full of hope and life! I'm glad he didn't take any notice of the Principal and let any consequences roll-off him, he did what any person would have done when faced with the enthusiasm of such beautiful young souls!ReplyDelete
Hugs Jane x
Jane, I'm So happy to hear from you. Yes, it was a moment of absolute joy. He did what every person should have done... I'm so glad for his kindness. I hope yo are feeling well, and the view out your window is the beauty of the world. Hugs to you.Delete
Oooh!.... 'afternoon seeps through etched glass'. Wonderful!!ReplyDelete
Thank you... :)Delete