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Everyday Cheapskate: Life Lessons From a Daffodil Garden

Mary Hunt on

I love the story author Jaroldeen Edwards tells in her book "Things I Wish I'd Known Sooner," when she took a trip with her daughter Carolyn one drab, rainy day. Her daughter wanted to drive more than two hours to see some flowers a woman had planted. She wasn't too thrilled, but her daughter insisted, saying, "You're going to love this, Mom!" Tell me what mom could resist going along with that kind of enthusiasm.

They drove along the Rim of the World Highway -- California state Route 18 -- inching their way through fog and drizzle in the San Bernardino Mountains toward Lake Arrowhead, north of Los Angeles.

By now, Jaroldeen was so agitated and convinced her daughter was kidnapping her. Still not convinced this sight could be worth the trouble, Carolyn parked next to a small, stone church and said they would need to walk along a path, through huge, black-green evergreens and over a thick blanket of fallen pine needles to see the flowers.

Just as they turned the corner of the path, Jaroldeen stopped dead and gasped in amazement: "There before me was a most incredible and glorious sight! So unexpected and unimagined."

She saw rivers of daffodils in radiant bloom, sloping down from the top of the mountain across several acres of folds and valleys, between the trees and bushes. Daffodils every color of yellow blazed like a floral carpet before them.

Her mind flooded with questions. How could this be?

The daffodil garden was the handiwork of just one woman, a former Los Angeles high school art teacher named Gene Bauer. She and her husband still live on the property. Their small home (which they rebuilt after it was destroyed by a fire) fits perfectly in the scene of glorious flowers.


Gene began planting each daffodil bulb by hand, one at a time, in 1958. Year after year, she replaced ugly, dried up, lifeless bulbs and eventually planted close to 1,000,000 bulbs. She forever changed her world by creating something magnificent, beautiful and inspiring.

As Jaroldeen approached the mountain home situated in the sea of yellow, she saw a sign posted by someone who was clearly tired of answering the same questions over and over. It said, "Answers to the Questions I Know You are Asking: One Woman, Two Hands, Two Feet, and Very Little Brain. One bulb at a Time. Started in 1958."

What do you need to do in your life? Build an emergency fund? Pay down your debt? Downsize to a smaller lifestyle? Why not start today? Take the first step, and then do it over and over again, one baby step at a time. You will be amazed at what will grow from your efforts -- no matter how small. Your consistent diligence will make all the difference.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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