Tulips to a Year

This evening I arrived home from work and planted my tiny pot of tulips in the back flowerbed.

They’re tulips that I found the week before Easter; they were nestled inside a “Congratulations” bag that was hanging from my back door. Inside the bag was a tiny bunch of fresh cut daffodils, along with a chocolate bunny and a card.

Everything was from my neighbor. He’d heard I’d gotten a new job, and included a note congratulating me. Since we were approaching Easter, everything was appropriately themed.

When I got them, my tulips were significantly shorter, and still closed tightly. Over the last two weeks or so, they fully opened up and embraced the holiday; they were becoming more beautiful by the day. They’ve also been standing incredibly tall; I think they’ve grown three inches since arriving at the casa. Plus, they’re an inquisitive trio — last Saturday I set them on the kitchen counter, gave them some water and went out to run some errands, only to come home and find that all three had bent their lime green stalks noticeably towards the light in a matter of 6 hours, soaking up every last drop of sunshine after the few rainy and gray days we had. Adorable.

I know their blooms won’t last much longer; one fell apart when I bumped it during planting, its petals floating down to the soil still damp from last week’s rain. I suspect I planted them too early from what I’ve read, but I spotted a gnat hovering around them yesterday afternoon, so I needed to set them free and move them to a more gnat-friendly (read: outside) environment. That aside, it’s happened before where I thought I might’ve prematurely ended a flower’s lifecycle, but have been pleasantly surprised when I get a bit of green emerging from its bulb and up through the ground a year later. I’m hopeful this is the case next spring.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of spring, as I’m generally still in mourning for winter and missing the Christmas holidays desperately. I prefer to fast-forward through the season and focus on a last-bloom-of-summer milestone like Labor Day, which I like mostly because it’s less than two months from Halloween, which is less than one month from Thanksgiving, which is approxiamtely one month from Christmas. In fact, just yesterday I said that I was in the mood for Christmas. Luckily for me, all I have to do is plug in the twinkle lights that adorn my potted palm in the family room and voila! Insta-merriment. But it’s not the same — not with a Christmas CD playing, not with a fire in the fireplace, and not with a peppermint martini adorned with a miniature candy cane.

This year it’s been slightly more pleasant to ease into spring. I’ve been doing gardening like never before, and it’s been a season of change in my personal life. I find that for as much as I wish I could learn right off the bat, the new job that I adore will take time.

It will take patience.

It will take its own season — and in a year when my spring flowers reappear, I will look forward to seeing what next spring brings in the way of knowledge gleaned, learning remembered and reflections pondered.

I’ll be able to look back on the freesia that I first planted this year and see its bright colors as they once again fill the yard with their heavenly scent. I’ll be able to see how the rose bush planted on Easter is filling out the front of the house, and how well its neighbor — the Indian Hawthorne bush — is holding down the fort on the outer perimeter of the yard. I’ll have junior geraniums by then instead of wee ones, a new iris that returns for its annual, friendly visit and hopefully a beautiful wall full of creeping fig.

And, of course, my friends the tulips.

Tonight I am thankful for my neighbor’s thoughtful gift; it carried more meaning for me than he likely knew. Tulips are to a year what sands are to an hourglass. They’re around for a while, and they can easily start over once they work their way through the cycle. They’ll adapt to a year in their own way, they’ll hold on through the cold of a winter and patiently wait until their time to once again peek out and look around. Just like I can’t wait to do.

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