There was the following sentence in the article of Time magazine (May 7) under the title of “5 things politicians must stop saying”:

The midterm elections are coming in much the way of crocuses — provided crocuses bought billions of dollars worth of ads to announce their approach, spent most of that money saying mean things about other crocuses and were gerrymandered into safe gardens anyway, so really what’s the point? But never mind, they’re coming all the same. http://time.com/90382/politicians-words-stop-saying/

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, crocus is:

  1. Any of a genus (Crocus) of herbs of the iris family developing from corms and having solitary long-tubed flowers and slender linear leaves
  2. A dark red ferric oxide used for polishing metals,

and has nothing to do with politics and elections.

What does the word, crocuses represent for in the context of the above article?

  • 2
    Some crocuses are worth their weight in gold, for they produce saffron. Still, it is hard to think of elections without caucuses.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 2:04
  • 3
    Is it just me that thinks this, or is the article's crocus analogy too long and laboured for words?
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 3:39

2 Answers 2


Crocuses are usually harbingers of spring, at least in my part of North America -- they're the first flowers to come out of the ground, sometimes even when snow is still on the ground in patches. They're small and not very showy.

The writer seems to intend to say that the activity of midterms kind of sneaks up on you (gradually makes itself apparent in small ways). But then the writer veers into irony, suggesting that pre-midterm activities are actually quite loud and hyperactive.

Also notice the focus on something "coming" or arriving, which agrees with this interpretation.

In any case it's quite a tortured metaphor, as written, and I would not take your quotation as an example of good writing.

Note also the metaphorical use attested to here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus#Metaphorical_use


It's a little more metaphorical then you think, The midterm elections are coming in much the way of crocuses; a Crocus is a perennial.

perennial   adj.

happening again and again

  • 1
    In perennial context, I feel like picking up Sakura - cherry blossom as a Japanese version. Commented May 11, 2014 at 7:37

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