• Sandy Boone

Tulip's Tulips

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Tulips from Tulip's first birthday

It all happened in a little less than a month. And here I am, sipping coffee on the wide porch of the house where I grew up. I step down the creaky front steps and walk around the house that is once again my home. There is a lot of work to be done. Caulking, painting, replacing, scraping, updating. After all, it is at least 80 years old.

Right after high school graduation, I married my sweetheart, Bob. We escaped to the hustle bustle of the big city. We both got more education with the help of our families and part time jobs. Those were wonderful, carefree days.

Over the years we had careers and raised two sons and a daughter. We always went back home to visit over the Christmas holidays. Our children loved those visits and so did we. Our children are all on their own now, all settled in different cities. It is rare that we get the whole family together.

Quicker than we expected, the time to retire dawned on our psyche. Got the travel bug and decided to sell our house, furnishing included. We would be free, like sea gulls flying when and where they wanted.

Just before our city house closed, my aunt moved into a nursing home. She lived in my parents’ home after they died. So now there was another house for us to sell.

Guess what? Bob and I both got the “let’s go back home bug.” At the same time. The timing was perfect. “We can still travel whenever we want to and go where we want to.” And that is the story of how we got back here in our home town so quickly and rather unexpectedly and in less than a month.

By the way, my name is Tonya. I am an only child. My Mother told me I always loved red. For my first birthday, my parents gave me red tulip bulbs. My Mother said they chose tulips because tulips are symbolic of perfect love.

My birthday is in the fall…the perfect time to plant the tulip bulbs. When I turned one year old, my parents started our tulip tradition. They carried me in a backpack kind of sling as they walked across the meadow, wading through a bubbling spring, to the sloping base of the nearby mountain. My parents planted a dozen bulbs over a small area.

My Father said, “You are going to love these, Tulip.” And that is the origin of my nickname that stuck with me until Bob and I left our hometown half a century ago.

As I grew, my parents continued the tulip tradition. One of my birthday gifts was always a bag of tulip bulbs. We would cross the meadow, wading through a bubbling spring, to the sloping base of the nearby mountain. Together we would plant tulip bulbs.

As I got old enough for birthday parties, the planting became part of my birthday party tradition. Every year my friends helped to plant the tulips on the slope. By then we had a collection of plant augers that made planting fun, even for my friends.

I had seen Bob at school. He was cute. He came with a friend of mine to the birthday party when I turned sixteen. Bob even brought extra red tulip bulbs. Soon after we were dating.

Every spring was like a celebration as the red tulips poked through the crusty soil. Walks were so special when the clumps of tulips were in full red array. We never picked them although it was tempting to consider the possibility. The tulips just loved to be outside. They would sway in the gentle breezes on the slope where they staked an area they called home.

The mountain slope was dotted with 18 patches of tulips in the spring before Bob and I married and moved away. My wedding bouquet was a spray of red tulips which the florist special ordered for me. No surprise there, right?

My parents continued the birthday bulb plantings even after I moved away. I regret that Bob and I never visited my parents when the tulips were in bloom. It was just hard to get away in the spring. I loved getting tulip pictures my parents would send me.

My birthday is just weeks away. I have ordered a huge bag of tulip bulbs. Being older, I appreciate more colors than just red. In fact, I ordered an all-spring mix. The website promised weeks of tulips because of the varying bloom times of the different varieties. And the website promised a brilliant range of richly colored blooms in intriguing shapes with variations of petal shapes and arrangements. Deep shades like maroon and purple as well as light shades like white, cream and yellow. The light colors are said to symbolize newness and purity. Pink ones symbolize affection and caring. Red ones say “I love you.” Yellow ones are jumping up and down cheerful.

I am so excited that I will be able to see them in bloom next spring. What beautiful memories they will bring. I am sure Bob and I will visit the tulips every day, maybe taking a blanket and picnic basket. Definitely taking phone to record the visual treats we will find. It will be like someone painted the slope with red as well as maroon, purple, pink, red, white, cream and yellow along some variegated kinds. How awesome.

So I have planned the party for my birthday which is just weeks away. It will be the best birthday party ever. We are back home. We will plant hundreds of tulip bulbs. We will enjoy the walk through the meadow and the bubbling spring to the slope. We will laugh and hug and play, celebrating not just tulips, but life itself.

Shall I send you an invitation?

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