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Holding It All Together- Me and Tulips

By Amy McCollom
I do not profess to know a lot about flowers, but I do know what a tulip looks like.  Every spring now, I look forward to seeing bright pinkish-red tulips pop up in front of my house.  It was quite a nice surprise that first spring after we moved into our house to suddenly wake up one morning and be greeted by those pretty flowers right there in my own yard.  There are little purple flowers all around the base of the tulips, and I am not positive, but I think they might be Forget-Me-Nots.  Like I said, I am not a “flower garden person.”

I like tulips in particular because they bring back happy memories of when I was growing up as a child.  Every spring I would take my teacher a hand-picked bouquet of tulips.  I loved to see the smile on my teachers face; I still love making people smile. The neighbor lady across the street from where I lived grew lots of flowers in her yard.  Her driveway was lined on both sides with all colors of tulips, and she had tulips along the front of her house and under her windows too.  She also had roses, peonies, and all kinds of other flowers, but the tulips were the ones that always caught my eye.  They were the prettiest to me.

Our next door neighbor had a few tulips as well, but not nearly as many as the lady across the street.  That’s why I only picked from the yard with the most flowers.  I didn’t figure that lady would notice two or three missing when she had 500 flowers in her yard.  

The day of my “great flower caper,” I would have my dad get me up early, and I would sneak out the front door quietly, dodging behind tall trees and bushes, crouching behind a fire hydrant, then belly crawling across the grass until I was just close enough to reach the base of the stems.  three different colors, snap, snap, snap, and I never left a “man” behind.  Carefully I would cradle my treasure and I would run my plan in reverse until I was safe inside my house.  My heart would be pounding out of my chest, but I felt like I had just robbed Fort Knox.

I would carefully wrap a damp napkin around the ends of the stems and roll the flowers loosely in a sheet of newspaper.  My teachers were always delighted and I was pleased to see the flowers in a vase on their desk for several days afterward.  If they only knew I had risked life and limb to show my appreciation toward them!  Well, it seemed so at the time.

Tulips are just tulips.  They are the color they were born to be.  Once they warm up to their environment, they open up.  They have nothing to hide.  Even their fragrance is true and unmistakable.  No thorns, no apologies, no blending in.  When it is their time, they pop up and take the stage.  They also add beautifully to any arrangement.  Tulips are the team-player of flowers.  Tulips are simple.

Perhaps of all the flowers, known and unknown, I am more like a tulip than I ever thought.  I make people smile.  I don’t mind being part of the background.  I am my own unique color.  I am flexible.  When I am open, I have nothing to hide.  I have no thorns to protect my soft side.  I am more beautiful when grouped with others like myself.  There is something very distinct about me.  Although strong, I can be fragile, but I will always return.  I am relentless.

Ladies, especially, is there a special flower that you relate to more than any other?  What is the story behind the flower?  There is always a story.  Tell me.  I want to hear about your connection to flowers.  When was the last time you held a flower, inhaled it’s scent, touched it’s delicate petals?

I wish I could have flowers in my house.  Unfortunately I have allergies to pollen and assorted other allergens so plants and flowers need to stay outdoors.  I do intend to plant more tulip bulbs around my yard, perhaps down both sides of my driveway and under my windows like my neighbor did when I was a kid.  And if by chance, some early spring morning, a child comes sneaking up to pick a handful to take to his teacher, I will smile to myself for a job well done.

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