Photo of Snowdrops (Galanthus) © Gayla Trail, author of Grow Great Grub
I have seen snowdrops; in gardens and on the cart of a peasant woman who was driving to market. I wanted to buy a bouquet from her, but thought it not right for a robust man like me to ask for so tender a thing. They are sweet, these first shy announcers of something beloved by all the world. Everyone loves the thought that it will become spring.
It is all a folk play, and the entry costs not a penny. Nature, the sky above us, is conducting no mean politics when it presents beauty to all, without discrimination, and nothing old and defective, but fresh and most tasty. Little snowdrops, of what do you speak? They speak still of winter, but also already of spring; they speak of the past, but also saucily and merrily of the new. They speak of the cold but also of something warmer; they speak of snow and at the same time of green, of burgeoning growth. They speak of this and that; they say: Still in the shadows and on the hills lies a fair quantity of snow, but where the sun reaches, it has already melted away. Yet all sorts of hoarfrost may still come this way. April is not to be trusted. But what we wish will nevertheless win out. The warmth will assert itself everywhere.
Snowdrops whisper all kinds of things. They bring back to mind Snow White, who in the mountains found a friendly welcome from the dwarfs. They remind one of roses because they are different. Everything always reminds one of its opposite.
Just wait. The good will come. Goodness is always closer to us than we think. Patience brings roses. This old, good saying occurred to me when recently I saw snowdrops.
"Snowdrops" by Robert Walser
from Selected Stories of Robert Walser
Translated by Tom Whalen and Trudi Anderegg
© Verlag Helmut Kossodo, translation © Farrar, Straus and Giroux