Daffodils, tulips, dahlias...all of them beautiful, all of them happy harbingers of spring...none of them do I plant. I appreciate and enjoy from afar those that my neighbors plant.
I require a little more instant gratification in my gardening. I mean, I can plant things that aren't instantly beautiful (like seeds), but only because I know they'll start doing SOMETHING soon and then I can monitor them and talk to them and coax them along for the weeks it'll take for them to turn into something pretty and/or tasty. Bulbs don't give you that. Bulbs are ugly gross little brown blobs that you have to go dig deep-ish holes for, bury, and then they DO NOTHING for half a year. And they are expensive. And don't nobody have time or money for that. If I'm going to go spend $20 on plants, I'm getting something that I can enjoy immediately. Every spring I wish I'd planted bulbs the previous fall. Every fall I think about planting bulbs, but by the time I get to the nursery, I'm buying mums and pansies...things I can be guaranteed to enjoy instantly. I never get around to getting bulbs. And then it's spring again and I'm regretting that I didn't plant bulbs. Again. For the 10th year in a row.
It's a vicious cycle.
Apparently I broke it this year.
Last night I got home from a meeting around 10:00 p.m. It was dark, but as my headlights panned over the driveway, something pink in the mailbox flowerbed caught my eye. I thought it was trash that had blown over. But then I noticed there was another pink thing a few feet over. I stopped to investigate.
Well, well, well...
Infinitely better the neighbor's litter being blown into my yard...those are daggum TULIPS coming up and blooming so prettily!!
I parked the car and went back out with a flashlight to investigate further. Sure enough, spotted throughout several flowerbeds in the front yard are a whole mess of tulips popping up and in various stages of about-to-bloom.
Once I saw them, I remembered. Oh yeah! Sometime late last summer or early fall we'd seen a bag of tulip bulbs at Aldi. The grocery store. I remember that it was something so ridiculously cheap...like 20 or 30 bulbs for $6 or something. (For comparison's sake, even at places like Lowe's, tulip bulbs are typically around a dollar per bulb- for the CHEAP ones.) I was so appalled by the shockingly low price, I threw it in my cart. Then I remember that they sat on a shelf in the garage for weeks. Or maybe longer. Things were crazy then...we were in the midst of our adoption. I had fifty million things to think about, and none of them involved burying plants that would probably never come up the next spring. But every time I passed the bag in the garage, I would think well, they DEFINITELY won't come up if they're still in a bag in the garage come March.
And so I remember one afternoon seeing them and being like FINE, WHATEVER, I'LL PLANT THE STUPID THINGS! I WON'T EVEN CARE ABOUT THEM IN THE SPRING, I'LL HAVE A BAAAAAABY AND PLANTS ARE STUPID COMPARED TO BABIES!!! So I spent about 3 minutes frantically running around, digging half-hearted holes, throwing in the bulbs, and not even talking to them or anything. This is very unlike my normal planting, just so you know. I had absolutely zero confidence they would ever come up, I spent about 3 minutes putting them in...and then, obviously, I completely forgot about the whole thing.
Until last night.
It's spring now. I was already happy about that. And now I have tulips. My most favorite bulb-flower. All over my yard!! Pink tulips!! I can hardly believe it.
I went out this morning to enjoy them in the sunlight and take these pictures. As I looked at them- bright, happy splashes of color springing up from the still cold, dead-looking ground- I couldn't help but think of this verse in Isaiah: To all who mourn...he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. (Is. 61:3)
Beauty out of ashes. The fall was ashes. The winter was ashes. And out of that, beauty will rise.