The Great Daffodil Robbery
I have absolutely no interest in writing poetry about pansies or petunias, not even daffodils, but I would like to tell you about the Great Daffodil Robbery. This is not poetry.
Fresh out of college as an English major with no degree I worked at several newspapers as a reporter, an editor, a “Merchandising Supervisor” and a few other before-job jobs at an average salary of about $45 a week. This wasn’t enough for beer and cigarettes, much less rent and operating a car. I had spent a summer in Philadelphia climbing trees- a “tree surgeon”, so I gravitated back to that once I had worn out the writing jobs I could find in Baltimore. The pay wasn’t much better, but my wife had a job and we managed to save a little money, get a loan and buy a house on a wooded hilltop in Baltimore County just outside the city. It had an old farmhouse on it which we gradually fixed up. We had two children: boys.
During this period I started taking in tree jobs and went into business for myself. This work can be exciting, even fun sometimes, but it is brutally hard work. Most tree climbers I have known were alcoholics, myself being one of that number. It seems to come with the job. Gradually, I began as well to take on some landscape jobs, which were no easier.
I cleared my woods which ran back from the house down a rather steep slope with a Gravely tractor and over a few years planted it with plants salvaged from landscape jobs. I also planted bushels of daffodils. In the spring I loved to walk my woods, coffee in hand to see what was blooming. The daffodil crop was always spectacular. Then one spring I was halfway down the hill when I realized that something was very wrong. My daffodils were gone! Someone had cut or pulled every single flower.
My employees were coming in to work so I didn’t have time to deal with it before the afternoon. I was very preoccupied that day, angry and feeling very vulnerable.
Home at 5 pm I opened a beer and called the police. This was the conversation:
Me: This is Jack Scott. 3711 Putty Hill Avenue. I want to report a robbery, theft I guess you’d call it. From my property.
Police: What was taken?
Police: Really, Mr. Scott. Daffodils?
Me: Hundreds of them. Thousands. From my woods. I need an officer to come and find who took them.
Police: When were they taken?
Me: I have no idea. Probably yesterday while I and my wife were at work. We have a dog. I don’t think it was done while we were here. And the babysitter wouldn’t likely notice anything. The woods are out of sight from the house.
Police: What would you like us to do?
Me: Come up here. Help me find who did it.
Police: Do you have any close neighbors?
Me: No. The bastards must have come in from the back or even the Beltway. Please come.
Police: Can you identify the daffodils?
Me: No. They’re daffodils. A lot of varieties. A lot.
Police: I’m not sure what we can do.
Me: Just come.
Police: We’ll send an officer to take a report.
Me: Thank you.
That’s an abbreviation of the conversation. I was very angry, very excited and upset and very drinking beer. At this point I was probably slurring my words.
My wife, now home from work though sympathetic was not sharing the degree of my outrage; she was drinking wine. I had questioned the babysitter before she left. Nothing. Ditto, the kids.
All kinds of things were going through my mind. Was a gang stealthily raping my woods after midnight by flashlight? Or had an individual been plundering a fraction of the daffodils day by day while no one noticed?
By the time the police, two men, came, I was nearly drunk and over the edge of restraint. Woods? I had been raped. My privacy violated. They took my statement, essentially the same as I had given over the phone. Amused, mock seriously they went through the motions of walking through the woods with me.
Back at their car they shrugged politely as if to say what can we do? And said they would do what they could to find the perps. It was obvious that I would be unable to identify the loot or the looters even if they came across confessionless persons of interest.
For days the phrase Really, Mr Scott, Daffodils? rankled through my mind.
®Copyright 2014 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.