Listen or Read
In an effort to make busy lives simpler, this is a post you may either listen to, or read. To listen click onto the recording arrow.
My poem, Daffodil Circle was written in the summer of 2017. It published in the recent edition of The Daffodil Journal—the quarterly publication of the American Daffodil Society. Now that it’s published I can share it with you on this blog, and hang on…since it mentions tea cakes, my grandmother’s tea cake recipe is also here.
Now about this poem—my grandmother’s house was/is in East Texas. The yard and meadow were covered in daffodils each Spring. It was mind-boggling there were so many. The most intriguing of all was a circle of daffodils. Fully planted and maybe fifteen feet in diameter, as a kid, this circle was mesmerizing to me. It became a magical place to sit, so that’s what Daffodil Circle is about. After accepting the poem, the editor asked for an essay and the tea cake recipe for publication. I know most of my readers are not members of the American Daffodil Society, that’s why I’m sharing this poem with you on my blog, and this link to The American Daffodil Society, if you have an interest in joining….and don’t forget the tea cake recipe is at the bottom of this post with a link to a daffodil flower cookie cutter I found on Etsy.
Daffodil Circle—a poem
past the house
other side of the dead-end
i peer through chain link
they’re still there
on the hill
daffodils, still there
fifty years passed
i sat in the center
mesmerized by their beauty
i was five, six, seven
time gone, magic lost
now i’m back, here
and they’re there, magic again
who planted them
their silent whispers still heard
they feel feminine, yes, definitely feminine
maybe it was Mary or Bonnie Jean or Jane or Mary Clyde
were they planted in the early morning,
sun rising over Sugar Creek, ahhh Sugar Creek
or possibly in the afternoon,
as teacakes warm from the oven cooled on a pale flour sack
as the same moon, stars and planets i now see, nightly peek out
could the air have been crisp with Fall
pecans falling, thump
a turkey roasting while newly buried bulbs await Spring
they’re still there
the daffodil circle
today, that’s all that matters(PERIOD)
History Lives On in Daffodils—the essay
I grew up in the house next door to her—Mary Clyde Smith Phillips, or as I knew her, Memaw, my paternal grandmother. In 1864 her family loaded their wagon and moved to East Texas from Conyers, Georgia. She was born in 1891. Her home remained in our family over 100 years.
Our houses were separated by old stalwart pecan trees, crape myrtles, and tall cedars where she sometimes hid making loud monster sounds, so I would run into the house for the comfort of warm teacakes baked daily. We spent so much time together I got nicknamed “The Golden Baby.” Many days were spent reading books by a spring-fed pond teeming with tadpoles, surrounded by red rocks softened with green moss. My black and white Indian paint horse, Comanche, grazing in the distance.
In the Spring they were everywhere—daffodils. All sorts of daffodils: solid yellow, white with orange cups, solid milk white, or white with straw yellow cups. It was as if they had fallen from the knapsacks of daffodil fairies as they flew over, and planted by their ground crew gnomes. They sang in visual harmony with irises. A promise of warmth, and Spring, and rebirth in random placement across the yard and meadow, but the most intriguing of all was the daffodil circle—a perfect circle on a hill just beyond the gate.
I spent hours mesmerized by this circle. Once we spread a quilt and ate tea cakes in the center. I’ve never forgotten the circle. On a Spring trip back a few years ago, we met the new owners of Memaw’s house. After marveling at the restoration that had returned it to life, I slipped out to check on the circle. It was still there. A bit scraggly, but still there. I came home, made tea cakes from her recipe and wrote the poem, Daffodil Circle.
Mary Clyde Smith Phillips has been outlived by daffodils. I will be outlived by daffodils, and history lives on—in daffodils.
Tea Cake Recipe
The Ingredient List
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fine sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I always spill over a few extra drops)
4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Baker’s Note: The ingredients listed above are for traditional teacake cookies like our grandmother’s made. If you like lemon flavor, you can add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract to this traditional recipe.
The Preparation Method
- Sift all 4 cups of flour. As a result of sifting, you will now have more than 4 cups of flour, because volume increased by adding lightness and air. Now, measure out 4 level cups of sifted flour and set aside in a separate bowl. Reserve the small amount of remaining flour for use on the dough board or work surface as you roll out the cookie dough. Sifting keeps the batter pliable and the cookies light in texture.
- Add salt and baking soda to the measured 4 cups of flour and sift again to evenly incorporate the salt and baking soda with the flour.
- In a separate bowl cream the butter. Add sugar gradually. Add one egg at a time, then add vanilla. Incorporate each item well before adding the next.
- When the mixture is totally blended and appears smooth and creamy begin to gradually sift the flour mixture into this creamy mixture. Do not use more flour than is called for, as this could make the dough stiff and heavy.
- Thinly cover the dough board or work surface with the extra flour reserved from the original sifting. Add more flour onto the surface as needed. Take half the dough and roll smooth with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thickness or just under. Cut cookie into desired shapes.
- Bake on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet at 375º for a range of 8 to 12 minutes. All ovens are different. Begin watching the cookies at 8 minutes. 12 minutes works for my oven.
- Allow to cool and enjoy.
Phebe Phillips is a Texas author writing poetry and short stories that illuminate the wonder and perplexity of life. Ending each work with the word, (PERIOD) is a signature of her work.
Her book, Why Me? Positive Verse for Loss and Sadness is available through Amazon, or your favorite bookseller.
Next month it’s available in Spanish / English.
Phebe writes and records The Literary CatCast Podcast at her Holland Avenue Studio in Dallas, Texas..
For more visit her personal website, www.phebephillips.com.