You just never know, or: happy surprises (updated)

I don't know about you, but I think this brown-and-white basin/ewer/etc. set that we found at Kim's Kollectibles in Madoc is very pretty indeed; and wouldn't the ewer (pitcher) look beautiful with a cluster of narcissus and/or daffodils in it?

I don’t know about you, but I think this brown-and-white china basin/ewer/etc. set that we found (on sale!) at Kim’s Kollectibles in Madoc over the long weekend is very pretty indeed; and wouldn’t the ewer (pitcher) look beautiful with a cluster of narcissus and/or daffodils in it?

Our blooming narcissus plant in the Manse's garden.

Our blooming narcissus plant in the Manse’s garden.

Good evening, readers! Tonight’s post is coming to you a tiny bit earlier than last night’s, when Raymond and I had been out for an absolutely delightful dinner with some friends from our church here in Montreal, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. It was late when we got in so I did a quick post featuring little more than a snapshot of a narcissus plant that we practically watched go into bloom over the Victoria Day weekend at the Manse in Queensborough. (Remember those old slo-mo films of flowers bursting into bloom? On OECA – the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, now TVOntario? Yes you do. At least, you do if you are somewhere around my age and grew up in Ontario.)


As I said, that narcissus post was a quick one, just to get my (self-imposed) daily post requirement fulfilled before a late bedtime. But what a nice and surprising response I got to it! Which goes to prove this: you just never know.

The response came in the form of an email from Ernie Pattison, one-half of the Pattison-brother duo/trio (Ernie and Gary Pattison, and Gary’s wife, Lillian) behind the wonderful things (the Old Hastings Mercantile and the Old Omsby Schoolhouse “Educated Dining” and Tearoom ) that are happening in the tiny hamlet of Ormsby, 45 minutes or an hour northwest of Queensborough, in the heart of North Hastings County. I’ve written about all that here, so I won’t go over it again except to say that you must go visit the Old Hastings Mercantile and the Old Omsby Schoolhouse Tearoom (and “Educated Dining”) sometime soon.

What Ernie was writing about was narcissus. Actually, narcissus and closely related daffodils. In North Hastings. Read on (I don’t think Ernie will mind):

“In the early 1960s my neighbour at The Ridge [Katherine here: The Ridge is a small farming community near Coe Hill], Bob McGeachie (who passed away about 13 years ago), planted hundreds of daffodils and narcissus bulbs in a little roadside field across from our house. The narcissus are the last to bloom every May and there are hundreds of blooms on right now. The daffodils, about forty varieties, bloom through April and May every spring and are visited by many people each year. I cut back the sumac every year to allow the hundreds (thousands?) of bright, cheerful blooms to peek through the wild grass. I am sending a photo of a collection of the daffodils that I picked this year. There are some great colours including pink daffodils. We hand out little bouquets to all the moms at the Tea  Room on Mother’s Day.”

Isn’t that fantastic? A field of narcissus and daffodils, of all colours, blooming their heads off way up there in North Hastings County for all to see and admire, and all thanks to a good guy who just went and planted them.

I love that story.

Ernie sent along a lovely photo of some of this year’s crop of daffodils and narcissus in a makeshift vase that was in reality an old (like, really old), pretty china ewer (pitcher), which had been placed inside a matching wide, shallow china bowl that was doubtless the washbasin for a 19th-century family; the ewer was the source of the water poured into the washbasin. Unfortunately the format the photo came in means I can’t reproduce it here, but let me tell you this: it gave me an idea! Happy update: Today Ernie’s brother Gary sent me the photo in a different format, and here it is:

Daffodils picked for a frield at The Ridge, near Coe Hill. Don't they look beautiful in that vintage pitcher? (Photo courtesy of Ernie Pattison)

Daffodils picked from a field at The Ridge, near Coe Hill in North Hastings County. Don’t they look beautiful in that vintage pitcher? (Photo courtesy of Ernie Pattison)

As it happens, on the Victoria Day weekend Raymond and I – okay, I – purchased a really pretty old china basin/ewer/etc. set at half price from an antiques/collectibles store in Madoc that we like a lot (and that I’ve mentioned here before), Kim’s Kollectibles. (I had admired and been tempted by the set at full price a few months before, so when it was on sale at half price, how could I resist?)

And that set is the photo atop this post – which, admittedly, would be much nicer if there were narcissus and daffodil stems in the ewer. But I will leave it to your imagination, and I will feel happy that thanks to our new and not-yet-met-in-person friend Ernie Pattison we have an excellent idea for using that set.

Not to mention a great reason to head north of Queensborough – next spring and every spring after that – and go look at some stark yet beautiful countryside, where daffodils and narcissus bloom. Thanks to the late and thoughtful Bob McGeachie.