Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fields of Gold

What does the phrase, “stop and smell the flowers” mean to you?   Is it simply a cliché?  Or a message reminding us to slow down and enjoy the brief moments we have on this earth…

That time, like the early-spring daffodils, is ephemeral and we can’t recapture moments lost… and we only get to enjoy our loved ones for a season - for aren’t we all just transients passing through at dreamlike speed?             
I wasn’t planning a sequel to The Journey, but a certain comment haunted my thoughts.  Not in a troubling or spooky way, but in a numinous light.  
Ever tried to comment at length on someone’s post and the whole shebang just vanished into cyberspace?  Well that’s what happened when Rosemary first tried to share her story on mine…  
But all the ensuing synchronicities were too uncanny, and to enumerate them would require a separate post.  Suffice it to say for now that amazing coincidences directed her return.  Maybe she’ll grace another white blank space and elaborate here in the comments… hint.                 

Rosemary’s Story
At last I've made my way back to tell the “Fields of Gold story” that vanished on me the other day when I hit “publish”…
While my kids were younger I was definitely a “destination” person, always rushing and chasing my tail.
One Sunday in late March 2001, while returning home from a day trip with my mother and the children, Mum suddenly shrieked excitedly for me to stop and look at a field full of daffodils that she had spotted.
It had been a long drive and the kids were fighting in the car on the way home and I knew I had loads of Sunday night stuff to do so I didn't want to stop.  But something in her voice made me pull up at the gateway to the field, which was open as the farmer was there.
As we walked inside we were greeted with the glorious sight of golden flowers nodding in the breeze as they seemingly stretched towards the horizon.  Mum asked the farmer could she buy a bunch and he laughed and said that we could take as many as we could carry.
She was thrilled, and on the way home we all marveled when “Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy played on the CD – a song that I loved and had on auto play in the car at the time. (Number 1 album in Ireland Mar '01!)
That was the day I learned that the “journey” and the “now” are all that matter.   Almost a year to the day on 26th March 2002 my wonderful Mum died.
And now every time I hear this beautiful song I cry...with joy that I decided to stop that beautiful spring day and walk in the fields of gold.  

I love these pastoral images in this video. Serene and soul-soothing.  So in case you missed it the first time around…

Rosemary Hannan lives in Dublin, Ireland where she works as a freelance journalist.  You can read her writing at OffbeatWoman.   

You're only here for a short while.  Don't hurry.  Don't worry.

And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.

In what ways do you stop and smell the flowers?  A picnic at the park or a trip to the zoo with the children?   A drive in the country or a night at the theatre with aged parents?  Special birthday or anniversary celebrations?  Being there for a friend when you’d rather be elsewhere?      

What memory does this saying elicit in you?


  1. Flowers should never be neglected or rushed past. They are life at its glorious best. New life follows their bloom and demise. They are a metaphor for enjoying life as much as we can now.

  2. When I was in high school the drive home each day was 18 miles (from Statesville, where I went to school, to Lake Norman, where my parents had just built a house) and the last five miles were on rural roads - no housing developments lined the road -just trees and some open fields. Every fall my mother would stop - almost every day - in the middle of the road - just to look at the autumn colors. Her descriptive word was "exquisite". I agreed with her and we'd both sit for a few moments and try to take it in. I never see fall foliage without thinking of her and I always describe it as "exquisite". My mother died suddenly when she was 44 and I was 18.

  3. For me I think it's a combination of things,sometimes a long drive just to enjoy the journey. Other times sharing the day with my grandaughter,and gg son. sometimes just some me time,maybe reading a good book! Blessings jane

  4. There is a song, hm Tom Jones sang it "Stop and Smell the Roses" I think is the name of it! It reminds me of what you here. "Stop and smell the flowers" To me it means, that I shouldn't be rushing by my children, family, and friends my life. I should take the time to take it all in.. enjoy every second of everyday.. Another wonderful post Debra.

  5. @ Jim - Flowers are life at its glorious best, yes indeed. And a brilliant metaphor of life, death, and resurrection.

    @ Ginny – Have you written this story for either Ginny’s Garden or The Blessing Bowl? “Exquisite” is the best word I’ve heard to describe those warm autumn colors. And this memory of your mother is an endearing one, allowing us a glimpse into her soul – the soul of a woman who paused and savored the glories of creation… and in so doing instilled in her daughter the same love of nature.

  6. That was so touching and so true. Smelling the flowers or stopping to be is a wonderful experience that lives for eternity.

    Thanks Debra

  7. Hi Debra! Maybe on occasions when someone gives me a bouquet of flowers or a stalk of rose, then that's some of the moments I usually cherish and enjoy sniffing at those fragrant petals...;) Hehe

  8. @ Jane – Nothing like a long drive or spending time with the grandchildren to keep us rooted in the moment is there? And” me time” of course is vital to wellbeing and a sane perspective :)

    @ Debbie – You have a knack for recalling all those oldies… I’m trying to summon that Tom Jones song in my mind; oh well, maybe I’ll check with you tube and give it a listen... The older we get the more we appreciate the necessity of spending time with family and friends. Not that we’re old or anything :)

    @ Alejandro – Yes, Rosemary’s story was touching and worth retelling. Stopping long enough to delight in life does carry on through eternity… this existence is just a dress rehearsal!

  9. it's like an exercise i do most of the time... i call them my quiet days... i'd spend some time lying on the grass at night, looking at the moon or stars... just being there...that's recreation for me... since we don't have any daffodils around or clear space to breathe, my nieces and i would spend time together in my room... just being there for each other... i'd treat my mom and dad for a satur-date... or listen to my colleagues at work pour their heartaches at break time... sometimes, i'd walk in the streets and somebody will just talk to me and i'd listen...and since my work ties me up to the computer til late night...i'd contemplate on the photos jim, mari and suriya post at our page... hmmm... just being there... present at prayer ;)... now i've just smelled the flowers here... and i feel light ... thanks debra :)

  10. @ Jorie – only you… the idiom lady has suddenly become quite the literalist :) And I’m willing to bet that you’ve been blessed with your share of bouquets, aye?

    @ Melissa – stopping to “smell the flowers” sounds like a regular practice for you: peering languorously at the heavens… hanging out with the nieces in your room (they must adore you)… treating your parents to a satur-date… being there for co-workers needing to vent… gracing strangers with your presence and listening ear… just being present and letting your light shine… wherever you are. And yes, contemplating those photos and art (and words) of fellow bloggers… these often evoke in me a sense of wonder.

  11. Stop and smell the roses...literally- do it. I did that with Ben - we go for our walks almost daily now with him in the backpack carrier. I take my camera and we click here we click there when muse moves us. I stopped to let him smell the lilacs or they look like lilacs, they are a vine and purple and he grabbed them with his hand. I started to pull his hand away thinking of no toxic plant. But then I didn't. I let him hold them, explore them, smell them. I then took a picture of him holding them. We not only stopped to smell the flowers - we used all our senses and the 6th one the artists have...

  12. Does anyone know if you have to be a Blogger blogger to use Google friends connect?

  13. I see synchronicity when two beautiful souls combine to touch our hearts. I didn't read this comment of Rosemary's here, Debra, so I'm so glad you published it this way. Rosemary's comments are always so meaningful. I love the way she connects with her own experiences.
    And the message that both of you bring us is here is so deep - living in the present moment -there's no other way!
    Thanks for this, Debra.
    Much love...

  14. @ Meg - you are building beautiful memories for Ben… aesthetic, tactile, and artistic… he is so blessed to have a lively and creative mom like you. And now my Abi will be joining you on the trail to smell the flowers, take nature walks, capture scenery with photo after photo, and just bask in the glories of nature.

    I see that you used Open ID? Because I can link right back to your site now. I’ve never seen Google Friends Connect on Wordpress.

    @ Corinne – you just wouldn’t believe all the synchronicities here. But then again, knowing you, you probably would :) And you wouldn’t be remotely surprised because, no doubt, you have experienced such uncanny “coincidences” yourself. This topic merits a post of its own. And Rosemary is planning to write on this as well. Soon I hope.

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  16. --Serendipity!
    --There are no coincidences!
    --Everything happens for a reason!

    These are all things I believe now, Debra. Stopping by the farm that morning and a little later hearing Fields of Gold was a sure sign, a message from God/Source whatever that Rosemary made the right decision. I now see everything as divine. And hearing that song was most certainly a divine message. Good for her that she stopped and good for her that she now carries that treasure w/her.

    Who knows maybe hearing that song now is a wink from her Mom. I'd like to believe that's the case. Wouldn't you?

    Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
    Blessings to you.

  17. Wonderful post Debra, and such an inspiring story Rosemary related to you.

    I such a "goal-based" society, it becomes very easy sometimes to simply ignore the fields full of flowers while rushing to our destination. What we lose however, is the wonder of all God brings to us along the way.

    Have a Blessed Day!

  18. I LOVE this story! I have always enjoyed stopping to "smell the roses" but haven't always remembered. Thankfully, my boyfriend (and some other friends) constantly remind me to do so. Now I wish I could lay down in a field of daffodils! :)

  19. What a wonderful memory for you to have and what a wonderful memory to share with us. As a photographer I had to learn to put down the camera every once and awhile and just look.

  20. I certainly believe in stopping and smelling the roses as this was done quite often when Erin was alive , nothing like lounging underneath a tree for hours on end staring at the world around us. These days I stop to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a great novel but I'm looking for that field of flowers to lie in. Take care!!

  21. @ Christopher - The word “serendipity” has been voted as one of the ten English words that were hardest to translate - in June 2004 by a British translation company. Just now looked it up to see how close it was to the meaning of synchronicity. But I think you’ve nailed it. And I, too, like to think that hearing the song now is a wink from Rosemary’s mum. Seeing everything as divine is indicative of a pure heart, I’ve heard. Thank you for this thoughtful comment.

    @ Phather Phil - This story, to me, is reminiscent of “consider the lilies of the field.” One of my favorite messages: to simply be what I was created to be, and trust… Our goal-based society fails to learn these lessons because, as Rosemary said, she was always rushing. And why do we rush our lives away? Isn’t it often because we’re trying to “get ahead?”

    @ Rachel – You have a wise boyfriend. Here the school teacher in me emerges :) Carpe diem (seize the day – most popular translation). But carpe diem literally means “to pick… pluck… crop.” Once I went about picking daffodils from property other that my own – shame on me – and then came home and wrote a poem called, “Illegal Daffodils.”

    @ Jim – Here’s the irony: if you didn’t put down the camera in the moment when you could just stop and enjoy the scene at hand, you’d never get to capture the moment – and we’d never get to be there with you in that moment. So thank you for allowing us a glimpse every so often of the glories of your world. I still see those vivid birds against the bluest sky ever!

  22. You're only here for a short while.Don't hurry. Don't worry.
    And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.
    I had stopped enjoying the simple pleasures of life,this is such a wonderful way of expressing how we should appreciate God's gifts to us.

  23. @ David - I’ve thought about you lately. Wondering how you’re doing now that it’s spring - that season when people are out and about taking pleasure in budding trees, full-blown flowers... and I can only imagine how much you must miss your walks with Erin, and her faithful presence in your life. ~ Love and prayers

    @ Alpana – I went over and read some thoughtful lines you wrote… and it seems you are living every moment as if it were your one and only moment – as should we all. Appreciating the simple pleasures in life produces grateful hearts.

  24. What a beautiful post. Rosemary's story reminds us all of the importance of taking note of all the blessings around us just waiting for us to pause long enough to notice. I love taking walks in the state park near our house with my children. To make sure I leave a long enough time where we don't feel hurried,that way , when one of them finds something interesting we can all stop and look and take notice. One thing that I've gotten in the habit of doing with my daughter, who has a gift for drawing, is to take hikes with just her and our journals. We'll stop wherever she wants on the trail, take our our journals and soak in all that is around us. I'll usually write and she'll draw. Later on when I look at what she drew, oftentimes it's not what I noticed. It's a beautiful thing, taking time to relish the present moment, and a blessing to be able to do it with the ones we love.

  25. To stop and smell the roses, this practice i learn't after a loved one passed away. What we have here and now needs to be watered and nourished. Rosemary's story is a beautiful reminder.

  26. @ Jessica – The art of taking our time, not rushing, being fully present… what better lesson to teach our children than this? My daughter used to keep a nature journal when she was younger. I can still see her sitting in the backyard – she says our backyard is a fairyland. Now we take long walks under the evening stars, looking up every so often to peer at the moon in wonder.

    @ Savira - Yes indeed, what we have here and now does need to be watered and nurtured. Losing a loved one seems to make us all the more attentive and attuned to the needs of those we cherish and hold dear doesn’t it? Rosemary’s story is such a beautiful reminder to stop and smell the flowers, both in the literal and in the figurative sense.

  27. It reminds me of my grandmother and her gardenias. With that said, this is a wonderfully written post, what a lovely and special memory!

    And I also love the line: all just transients... how true this is! This post makes me feel very calm.

  28. Debra...does this post come with a box of tissues?? Dang girl, I don't like to cry:(

    Wonderful post!

  29. @ Sheila – My mother’s best therapy was her flower garden. She had every variety from mums to gladiolas to gardenias to roses to petunias to black-eyed Susans to a yard bordered with lavender thrift…

    @ - Mary – I hear you. When I first read Rosemary’s comment on “The Journey” I got teary-eyed. It inspired a whole new post. A story that wouldn’t let go.

  30. again another inspiring post. Thanks for the encouragement. I love those daffodils! They bloom outside my window and were the flowers of my brides maids. Now I have a new way to see them.

  31. Debra, what a beautiful post! I'm very much the fan of living in the here and the now. I learned the importance of this when I was in college and a professor asked us to participate in an exercise. He asked that we choose something, anything, to do, but that we be in the present while doing so; using all of our senses to really live the experience and living it like we were doing it for the last time. While my chosen activity at the time seems a bit silly now (drinking my morning cup of coffee) I have to tell you that I never drank another cup of coffee the same way again. Now every time I do so, I savor it, take in its aroma, and really take my time. I guess that in not taking things, events or people for granted, we learn to appreciate the beauty and joy they bring to our lives. Wouldn't you agree?

  32. @ Rebecca – I guess those daffodils held by your bridesmaids are still fresh in your mind…. Happy 6th anniversary! Have a great weekend with hubby – just the two of you :) *wink*

    @ Bella – Wise professor with an amazing experiment! have you ever posted this story in your blog? Now there’s a story! Living an experience like we were doing it for the last time… let’s see what mine would be... hmm, I’ll ponder it more and get back. Coffee would be among the top 10 things for me though. Yes, I do agree… and try not to take anything – anything at all – for granted.

  33. So beautiful Debra! Ah the flowers, the stars in the sky, the wet grass beautiful! Will definitely check out Offbeat Women.

  34. Beautiful Debra. So often we forget to stop and notice the small pleasures of life, to live in the now. I am trying to do that, accept the Now and smell the flowers along the way. Thank you for sharing

  35. Debra,
    What a heart-warming posting. I'm so glad you stopped and took time to look at the field of golden daffodils with your mother. What a special moment. We need to focus on the journey, live in the now, not rush our way through the day. Life is short. Thanks for reminding us to take time to smell the flowers along the way.

  36. @ Kriti – This made me realize the flowers… stars and moon…. wet grass…these are here for our pleasure so why not enjoy?

    @ Rimly – You are most welcome. Me too – I’m trying right along with you.

    @ Brenda – It was a heartwarming story. I have my own similar stories, but this one was Rosemary’s. Don’t we all need to slow down a notch or two! I don’t want life to pass me by without having appreciated the blessings.

  37. Every morning my hubby and I sit and have breakfast together. We chat about what we've seen on line, blogging, things calming that we enjoy. Our 3 dogs join us and lay at our feet. This is a very special time that I would really miss it.

  38. I'm glad you posted Rosemary's comment here, such a beautiful memory. For me these days, stopping to smell the flowers means interacting with people, visiting family, hanging out with friends, and checking out blogs.

  39. @ Mari – I can see the scene now in my mind’s eye, a couple engaged in casual chat at the breakfast table. Three dogs lounging at their feet. A picture of simple peace and pleasure.

    @ Sweepy Jean – Same here… All of the above is what stopping to smell the flowers means to me too - the newest being to stop by places like yours and learn new forms of poetry… some of which I try on for size, and others I just enjoy reading and pondering.

  40. Thank you for the very kind blog comment, Debra! One way I "stop and smell the flowers" is in caring for my grandfather. He is 93 years old and gradually weakening physically, but thankfully not mentally. I am his primary daytime caregiver, and our routine is simple and slow. Like Brother Lawrence, I'm learning to practice the presence of God as I clean his dishes, fix his pillows, and try to come up with good comebacks when he teases me. :)

  41. @ Kerri – Brother Lawrence has been a major inspiration in teaching me how to practice the practice of God.
    And what better way to practice His divine presence than caring for a 93 year-old grandfather in the daily routine of preparing meals and cleaning dishes, etc. These would seem, to those who don’t practice His presence, like menial tasks with no reward, but when viewed from your perspective these chores become sacred acts.

  42. Windows of a goal. A page in a catalog. A road sign. Field of golden daffodils. Looking thru a store window. Jesus taught us of birds and flowers and how they do not toil. It does not have to be a field of flower it is just the moment we are stop long enough to look thru the windows of heaven.

  43. Roy, I do believe it’s true: we can catch glimpes of heaven here as long as we’re in the moment, paying attention, observant. It can be a field of flowers, or in birdsongs, or wherever we are with eyes attuned to the many wonders surrounding us.

  44. Not really anything to add except that I am definitely a relax and enjoy type. I love your writing dear one, and the song is exquisite.

  45. "For oft when on my couch I lie,
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye,
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills
    And dances with the daffodils."

    A few or a field of these magnificent trumpeted gifts sends me into a reverie!

  46. @ HumorSmith –
    Give us Lord, a bit o' sun,
    A bit o' work and a bit o' fun;
    Give us all in the struggle and sputter
    Our daily bread and a bit o' butter.
    ~From an inn in Lancaster, England

    @ Chip – Hard to beat William Wordsworth. Thank you for the poem.
    And while on the subject of daffodils, here’s another of his…

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills
    When all at once I saw a crowd
    A host, of golden daffodils.

  47. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. Also I much appreciate the link directing me to this beautiful post. It's true how we get caught up in our own little world of "need to be done's" that we forget all about the "should be done's." I personally know this all to well as 4 times in the last 6 years I have stopped abruptly and changed direction in life to walk the path less traveled. Thank you so much for reminding me why I get up every morning. And possibly one day I will set out and smell the flowers.

  48. Hi Debra, looks like you get an award again.

  49. @ Jenni - It's true how we get caught up in our own little world of "need to be done's" that we forget all about the "should be done's." Elwyn Brooks White puts it like this: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day :)”

    @ Jim - "I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks!" ~ William Shakespeare

  50. This is a beautiful post and really struck a chord for me. I've had two weekends of visits with family (mom and step-dad one weekend, then dad the next), and have really been feeling and sensing how important these times are with them - especially as they get older. It's so much easier to let go of little frustrations and disagreements when I am present to this.

  51. It took me a week to get back Debra...but that was because I wanted to post the prequel to what you've just written the sequel to before I commented! Does that make sense? :) Thank you so much for sharing my memory with your readers...and to your lovely readers, may I say thank you for reading this story which I really needed to remember on St Patrick's day 2011 which was when I came upon Debra's beautiful poem 'The Journey'. I have no doubt that as Chris said this was 'a wink' from my mother and that she sent me to Debra's beautiful blog when I badly needed some healing.I have written about the reason I feel this so strongly in my post today 'Signposts and Roses'. 'The Journey' and 'Fields of Gold' remind me that synchronicity, serendipity and coinicidence are all mere words, that fail to really depict the tangled web of emotions, energy and love that make each one of us a part of the whole. Thank God for Debra's gift to weave a poem or a story and for her generous heart for sharing! Much love.

  52. @ Kristen – Having lost both my parents I can say unequivocally that the time spent with them - especially as they age is worth every minute. I recall commenting on one of your posts that in my mom’s last years I wrote down her life story in a journal, as her eyesight wasn’t the best. Now I have all her stories in my possession, and can honestly say that if the house caught fire… that journal would be one of the first things I’d grab.

    @ Rosemary – Yes dear friend. Mere words can’t convey the force of love that was intrinsic in this story. And now I’m off to read “Signposts and Roses.”
    ~ Much love and many blessings

  53. As far as poetry goes, I haven't ever been a big fan of rhyming. It usually feels very cutesy and trite, and the rhythms bug my brain. That being said, when springtime rolls around, my mind automatically runs through the lines of "The Daffodils" by Wordsworth. My childhood was hallmarked by fields of flowers that my Great-Grandmother and Great Aunt grew to sell downtown on Market Square (Knoxville, TN). Primary among those were huge fields of daffodils, although there were many others to enjoy as well. I had my own "host of golden daffodils" every year. "And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils." That's what this post brought to mind for me. Flowers of all manner bind me to beautiful family memories and a childhood painted by nature. And yes, this just may end up in a future blog post!

    ~ Dawn

  54. I love Eva Cassidy. The music is so pure and full of emotion. It releases the tension. Thank you for sharing this.

  55. @ Dawn - I enjoyed hearing about your childhood memory of your Great-grandmother and Great Aunt, the “flower girls” who sold their wares downtown at the Market Square. I hope this story ends up in a future post, because I’ll be the first in line to read it. I’ve come to realize that memoir-writing engages my heart like little else. Real stories of real people.

    @ Marty – Eva is still very much present in her songs, wouldn’t you say? “Fields of Gold” I find to be particularly soothing and peaceful – and yes, full of emotion.

  56. Debra,
    This is such a touching tale. sorry to hear about your mum. Great song loved the video.

  57. Jessica, thank you. Have a great weekend!
    ~ blessings

  58. What a beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing. Gorgeous picture too.
    ~ Carol


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