This past February 20, between snow and ice storms, a friend emailed, “My narcissus are popping up, the little stinkers!”

Amused by her sentiment, and happy to oblige a truthful report, I replied, “And my daffies are popping up, the little stinkers!”

For I keep a patch of yellow daffodils behind the garage for this very purpose. Within view from the kitchen’s sliding glass door, they snuggle the garage and pea gravel border of our backyard patio. Often before the snow melts, their shoots drill through the soil to my applause.

My dependable showoffs, the daffies think they’re in the Mediterranean and usually bloom for my first Lenten bouquet. I’ll sometimes cut a magnolia branch and include it with the daffodils in a vase indoors, and force the buds to open.

Although my Helleborus bloom first in winter, their short stems and white flowers seem too shy and matronly to consider them “little stinkers.” There’s not a narcissistic gene in the Helleborus.

Indeed, Nancy, a fellow writer and gardener, revived in her email the endearment I used for my three girls while changing their diapers. Cloth diapers. Although Pampers appeared on the market in 1961, most young mothers of my means considered disposable diapers a luxury – and pun intended, a waste of money.

From the moment our third-born and baby could walk, she spontaneously performed fashion shows for every guest who entered our front door. Between wardrobe changes, she appeared in her diaper to the provocation of a unanimous, “What a little stinker!”

Today, she remains our family’s fashionista, her shoe and clothes closet the size of a small boutique.

As my children grew, I cheered them on in their passion to cross the finish line first, jump the highest pole vault, achieve academic awards, star as lead roles in high school plays, and design the latest fashion.

In a recent phone call from California, my second daughter used, “the stinker,” in reference to her eighteen-year-old son. I remembered my eighteenth year, the awkward and unprepared passage into the age of accountability and sensibility.

I remembered my daughter’s eighteenth year away at Alma College, responsible beyond her years.

Lastly, I considered my grandson, a young man taking his studies seriously as a student of Wayne State University, adapting well as a transplant into a different culture and city scape. Like narcissus, he’s driven to be first.

Now, being the second born of five daughters, striving for first place never crossed my mind. However, I achieved the highest score in cheerleading tryouts between my freshman and sophomore year in high school. One of the judges volunteered the information, otherwise I would’ve never known.

Oh, and in 2013 my lavender farm received the Keep Michigan Beautiful Award for my “outstanding contribution to beautification.”

Dear Reader, nonetheless, a good friend claims I’m “a stinker” whenever I tease her about working every job but prostitution to support her domestic hobbies and charitable donations.

I take it as a term of endearment.

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