"What did you bring back from Hamster-damn?" Elena asked.

"Amsterdam?" I suggested.

"Yeah, Hamster-damn. What did you get?"

"Mom bought tulip bulbs."

"Cool. Can I see?"

And she saw. And Kim and the girls planted the bulbs long before the spring would come when the flowers would bloom. I think that's part of the joy of flowers like tulips. You haven't exactly forgotten that you planted them, but when they come up it's always a nice surprise. It's nature stretching and saying "look at me".

Dirt covered the bulbs and then snow. Winter came. Elena died before the bulbs bloomed. In that interval between planting and blooming, so much happened.

When you're a kid, you're so impatient when you plant something. You want to see the results right away. Elena had a bean plant that she watched grow over a period of months. Finally, there were beans that we could eat. Beans that came from the plant that came from the single seed she planted.

Adults have the long view. What's the hurry? A watched pot never boils. A watched plant never blooms. Be patient. It isn't that long until spring. Not too long til the plant is out in all of its glory. The tulips are out now. We have many different colors, all from Hamster-damn. My favorites are these striking red ones that have a vibrant yellow core. The two colors bringing out the best in each other.

Look, Elena. Look at these bulbs you planted. They're here for such a short time and then gone. Like you. They are so beautiful and fragile. Like you.

I looked out the front window at our flowers and those of our neighbors. Something caught my eye across the street. There was a man picking three tall yellow tulips from the house right across the street. His back was towards me and so I thought it was our neighbor until he turned and looked around him and ran a hundred feet to his car. He got in with his flowers and drove off.

I was angry and indignant. I felt powerless. I couldn't stop him. There was no one to report him to. There was no point in telling the neighbors what had happened. It was so fast and he was gone. There in their front yard was a gap where the flowers had been.

It was like watching someone come and pluck Elena from our garden and whisk her away. I stood like I had two months before not quite sure what had happened not quite sure what to do.

Published in: on April 27, 2006 at 9:50 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Hi,
    A lot of what you write resonates with me as a parent. My youngest son is turning 5 this weekend. He still seems babyish in someways, and like a teenager in others! He gets cuddled for a while every night when he goes to bed – not because he needs it to help him sleep, but because I think we recognise the day will come when he won’t want cuddling, and it’s a nice way to take him in and end the day. Sometimes I stop and savour it, that I am very lucky to watch him grow.

    If you love something enough, you can watch it endlessly, and notice even tiny changes to almost hidden characteristics.

    You say in today’s entry that for adults a watched plant doesn’t bloom. I’d comment that your blog is your testament of a watched seed growing.

  2. Ethan (age 6) and I visited Elena’s grave on Sunday. This is something he’s been asking to do for weeks. It was a beautiful spring day. On the drive there (on Coventry Road) I noticed a yard full of tulip beds. It was gorgeous. The gardeners must have planted hundreds of bulbs.

    Ethan: “Oh, I wish we could take them all with us to Elena’s grave.”

    Me: “Well, you know that it’s someone’s yard so those aren’t our tulips. This location is a place where lots of people can enjoy them as they drive by.”

    Ethan: “Everyone but Elena.”

  3. Tulips have been a favorite flower for years now. I’ve even given potted tulips to friends who have lost loved ones. I’ve never been exactly sure why I like them so much, but reading of how they connect you with Elena gives me that much more of a reason to cherish the ones I receive as a gift and enjoy the ones that bloom in our yard.

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