The blooming of the narcissus in the wild, Wikipedia tells us, is the sign to begin festivals celebrating the arrival of Spring. In some cultures, anyway. In Cesar Chavez Park, the presence of a narcissus (aka daffodil) compels us to give thanks to a kind stranger who, at least as early as last fall, planted the bulb in the ground here on the bank of the North Basin, a few feet from the paved perimeter path and inches from the water’s edge. Birds may and do propagate all kinds of plants that spread via seeds, but birds don’t carry and plant daffodil bulbs. Here and there in the park, visitors have committed random acts of kindness by introducing garden flowers.
If the park were a native wilderness, I suppose one could object. But the park is an icon of the anthropocene — raised out of the tule marshes and erected on the native mud to be filled with millions of tons of urban waste. Its skin consists of dirt dug from construction sites all over the Bay Area, including notably the excavation of the BART tunnel. The main grass cover was broadcast by machine. Nearly all the diversity and variety of its botany consists of ruderals — basically, weeds that invade disturbed places. Welcome, daffodils! Jewels in the grass! It’s a joy to see you, tiny and shy as you are. May you spread and divide and grow and prosper.