I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
“Come on,” Johnny said as he led Gheorghe out of the barn. “Go change out of your work clothes.”
“Why? We have more work to do,” Gheorghe said as he followed Johnny into the house. “It is only morning.”
“It’s a surprise,” Johnny said as they walked up the stairs. He pulled off his shirt as he entered their bedroom.
Gheorghe watched with bewilderment as Johnny got undressed and then put on his nicer clothes. They weren’t anything fancy, just clean pants and a button-down shirt.
After he was dressed, Johnny walked up to Gheorghe. He pressed their foreheads together and wrapped his arms loosely around Gheorghe’s waist.
“I just want to do something nice for you. Take you somewhere. Somewhere I think you’re going to like.”
“Where?” Gheorghe asked, smiling at the thought of Johnny wanting to take him somewhere. He hadn’t seen much of Yorkshire. If he was going to be living here, he really ought to get to know the area more.
“That’s the surprise,” Johnny said, smiling sweetly at him.
“What about the farm? The animals will need fed and the fences need checked.”
“Nan said she’d look after the animals as long as we were back by supper. And we checked the fences yesterday.”
“As long as you’re sure Deirdre is alright with us taking off, then yes, I will go with you.”
Johnny kissed him in happiness. “Get dressed then.”
“Alright, alright,” Gheorghe said, chuckling softly. Johnny’s happiness was contagious. Gheorghe didn’t know where they were going, but John was excited about it. He would go anywhere with Johnny if he kept smiling like that.
“Grab your jacket,” Johnny said as he walked downstairs. “We’ll be outside.”
Johnny walked into the kitchen where Deirdre was waiting for him. She handed him water bottles and snacks she had made for them.
“Don’t worry about us,” she said gruffly. “Enjoy your day. Just don’t expect to get any more days to skivvy off work.”
“I know, Nan,” he said, placing the snacks and water bottles into his messenger bag. “Thanks for this. I just want to show Gheorghe that I appreciate him coming back and all.”
“He’s a good lad,” she said. Then, surprisingly she laid a hand on his shoulder. “You’re a good lad, too.”
Johnny was gobsmacked. She hadn’t called him a good lad since he was a boy. After his mother had left, Johnny had rebelled and became sullen and disobedient. Deirdre had raised him with a firm hand and stern voice.
She nodded at him and turned away. “You’d better get going.”
“Aye,” he said as he heard Gheorghe coming downstairs. “See you at supper.”
Johnny noticed Gheorghe was wearing his good pair of pants with his red sweater. He put on his jacket and opened the door for Gheorghe. “Ready?” he asked.
“I think so. Am I dressed ok?”
“Aye, there’s no dress code for where we’re going.”
They got into the truck, and Johnny drove them towards Farndale. As they were driving, Gheorghe waited patiently. He was curious, but he knew he would get no answers from Johnny. If he went to the trouble of planning this, then Gheorghe would let Johnny surprise him.
They drove in comfortable silence with the radio playing quietly in the background. Johnny saw Gheorghe smiling softly every time they passed a field of daffodils, and he grinned in response. Ever since their first dinner together, Johnny knew that the bright yellow flowers were Gheorghe’s favorite.
Johnny pulled into the car park at Low Mill and turned to face Gheorghe. He saw that Gheorghe was staring out the windshield in confusion. After all, it was just a car park with several brick houses surrounding it.
“John, what is this place?”
“This is the start of Farndale’s Famous Daffodil Walk.”
“Aye, Farndale’s pretty well-known for its daffodils. People come from all over to see them. So, there’s a walking trail now along the river. I thought you might like to see them too.”
“I do,” Gheorghe said, smiling brightly. “Let’s go.”
Johnny laughed as he got out of the truck. He knew Gheorghe was going to love this walk.
Gheorghe saw a sign as they entered the path. It read, “Warning. It is forbidden to pluck or injure the daffodils. Penalty £5.”
“I think it is best if the flowers are left to grow for everyone to enjoy them,” Gheorghe said, pointing to the sign.
“You can always pick the ones we have at home,” Johnny said. “I think Dad and Nan like having flowers brighten up the house.”
“What about you? Do you like the flowers?”
“Aye, they look nice,” Johnny said, blushing lightly. “Makes the house look cheerful like.”
Johnny wanted to say it wasn’t just the flowers that made the house cheerful. Although he was soft-spoken, Gheorghe brought a liveliness and joyful presence with him. Johnny knew that he was smiling more than he had ever had, and he also noticed Dad and Nan feeling more positive and relaxed.
They started walking along the path. Johnny had seen only a few cars in the car park, so he knew there weren’t many people walking today. He had hoped coming on a Wednesday morning would mean less people. He didn’t like crowds, and he just wanted to enjoy the day with Gheorghe without having people all around them.
Gheorghe gasped as the River Dove came into view. Sunlight glittered across the water as the river flowed slowly downstream. Despite the chilly breeze, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue on this early April morning. And the daffodils! They were spread all over the riverbanks and into the wooded area. There were so many bright yellow flowers, and they had only just started the walk. He was happy that Johnny knew him so well, that he knew Gheorghe would love seeing his favorite flower and being outside with Johnny by his side.
Without looking down, Gheorghe reached for Johnny’s hand. He gave it a gentle squeeze and smiled when Johnny looked over at him.
“Thank you for this. It is perfect.”
Johnny blushed. He returned Gheorghe’s squeeze and then interlaced their fingers. He surreptitiously looked around, but he didn’t see anyone. He wasn’t ashamed of Gheorghe, but he didn’t want any homophobic people to ruin this for Gheorghe. He wanted their day to be peaceful.
Gheorghe didn’t say anything as Johnny held his hand. He knew it was a big step for Johnny, and he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. He wanted Johnny to do things that felt comfortable to him, and he was glad Johnny wanted to hold his hand in public, even if they were all alone on the path.
They walked a little farther up the path, and the woodlands gave away to meadows. There were farmhouses in the distance. Johnny cleared his throat and began speaking quietly.
“Do you really like this?” he asked nervously, his insecurity coming into play.
“Yes, it is very beautiful, and I am with you,” Gheorghe said. He stopped walking and cupped Johnny’s face in his hands. “You should not worry so much.”
“You were probably thinking something different for our first date.”
“You want this to be our first date?”
Johnny cringed and looked down at the ground. “I know it’s not a typical first date. You’ve been back almost two weeks, but we haven’t had time to do anything or go somewhere. I’ve never been on a date before, so I wasn’t really sure what to do. I’ve seen on the telly where people go to restaurants or the cinema, and Nan likes those really old movies where the couples take walks and hold hands. That always seemed nice to me. So, I reckoned this walk would be perfect for us. You like the daffodils, and I just like being with you.”
“This is a perfect first date. You were very considerate in choosing this as our first date. You remembered daffodils are my favorite flower, and you found a place that has thousands of them. It is quiet and peaceful here. Holding your hand while walking through meadows of daffodils has made me very happy.”
“I’m glad you like it. I’m happy too.”
“Good, and I like being with you, too,” Gheorghe said. He kissed Johnny softly. “Now, let’s keep going. How far does the path go?”
“It’s 3 ½ miles round trip. We’ll walk to Church Houses and then turn back, or we could stop there and eat lunch if you want.”
“We’ll probably be ready to eat by then. Breakfast was a long time ago, and all this walking will make us hungry.”
“Oh,” Johnny said, as he dug around his messenger bag. “Nan packed us a snack and some water. You hungry now?”
“No, but I’ll take a water,” Gheorghe said.
Johnny handed him a bottle of water and opened one for himself. After they finished taking a drink, Johnny placed the bottles back into his bag. They started walking again, and this time Johnny reached for Gheorghe’s hand. Gheorghe smiled brightly and asked Johnny if he had a favorite flower. Their walk continued this way, easy back and forth questions as they quietly learned new things about each other.
Only the daffodils witnessed the deepening of their developing relationship. A gentle breeze rippled across the meadows making the bold yellow heads bob as if they were nodding in approval as the men walked past them.