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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Best Buds

daffodil shoots
Tommy Tomlinson
We might be in the middle of winter, but daffodils are beginning to poke out through the ground in Charlotte.

We are smack in the middle of winter — a little more than six weeks down, a little less than six weeks to go. Now, I’m talking about winter on the calendar. In our brains and our bones, it feels like it’s been winter for eight or 10 years now.


There’s a thing called seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that can set in during the gray, cold months. It’s more common in places like Alaska, where you can go months in wintertime and barely see the sun. But I think our whole country has been going through a low-grade version of it for a while now, between our political fights and the pandemic that has taken so much from us.

The other morning, when I went out to get the paper, the sky was the color of dryer lint. The dirt crunched under my bedroom shoes. But as I turned to go back in the house, I noticed something.

The daffodils were coming out.

We have a batch of bulbs planted at the edge of the sidewalk, and sometime in the past few days they’ve breached the soil. Right now the shoots are tiny, maybe half the size of my finger. But you can already see a hint of the yellow flowers that will light up so many yards a few weeks from now.

As I got close to the porch I noticed the camellia bush was budding, too. The buds look like little Brussels sprouts, knotted up at the end of every stem, and you can just start to see the burst of color inside.

camellia bud
Tommy Tomlinson
The camellia bushes are beginning to bud in the Carolinas.

We almost tore out that bush so many times. When we first moved here 17 years ago, we didn’t know what it was. We were in the middle of a drought so it never bloomed. We figured it was some sort of greenery that wasn’t all that green. But we never did get rid of it, and we were rewarded for our laziness one wet spring when the blooms shot off like fireworks. It’s a hybrid of some kind – some flowers are red, some are white, some are pink and some are a mix. And every year it’s astonishing.

There will be a time when you can shed your jacket and turn your face to the sun and see flowers in every direction. That’s the promise of the shoots and the buds. It has been a long damn winter. But spring always comes.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section at wfae.org. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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