Like the milkman, the snowdrops arrive bright and early.
With a stretch of imagination you can even see the similarity in looks – if you’ve got a long lanky green milkman holding his arms out to the side with a bottle of milk in his hands. Back in rural Worcestershire we were lucky to still have that rare thing unfailingly supplying fresh milk to our gates every day – except Tuesday and Sunday. No one really knew why not Tuesday. That’s just the way it had always been. Here on the St David’s Peninsula we are also lucky to have a new glass bottle, delivered milk service. A milkman almost never lets us down and for me the sight of the milk bottles is always a sign even on the darkest, coldest, wettest, most miserable morning that someone else is up and about and that all is well in the world. And so it is with the snowdrops. They bravely carry on whatever the weather.
In April when we’re outside more enjoying the daffodils and the first tulips and celebrating spring proper, I look back and think fondly of the snowdrops cheering me up so bravely in the depths of winter and I feel bad that I didn’t go out and spend more time with them – sit on the wet garden benches and properly spend time with them, coo admiring words to them and thank them for their simple beauty at a time when I so badly needed it, just because it was too damn cold and wet. I should have appreciated them properly in winter, I think too late.
It’s easy to understand why a whole obsessive hobby can be built up around snowdrops, when they are the only things around for weeks on end. These obsessives are called Galanthophiles. I always imagine them sitting around Arthur’s Round Table – being a gallant group of characters – but a quick google tells me that the etymology of Galanthus has nothing to do with being gallant but comes from the Greek for ‘Milk Flower’! It seems I was right all along!