… tiptoe through the tulips I saw along the way to the Park. I probably would have done it on a lark, except I might have gotten a citation for trespassing.
Besides my ukulele was out of tune.
It was a bright and beautiful morning, albeit nippy – no, make that cold – when I departed for my walk. At 45 degrees, I could have strayed back to the Winter duds which still have not found their way to the cleaners, but, instead I opted for a lightweight coat. In my purple jacket and bright red knitted headband and matching gloves, I resembled one of the members of the “The Red Hat Society” … only minus the frou frou, frills and frivolity.
In the chilly morning air, I had to wonder how all the Mother’s Day baskets and porch pots would fare with tonight’s temps sliding down below 40 degrees? People will be stuffing their portable annuals into their garage or hut, or maybe even their basement, to protect the tender blooms. I’m sure today’s newspaper will be thrown over teeny seedlings of tomatoes, cukes and sweet corn.
While strolling down to the Park I noticed that all the tulips have finally opened and they looked beautiful. It was breezy and the rows of tulips in many gardens were bending slightly with each puff of wind, but the blooms were not yet spent enough to flutter down from the tall stem into the garden bed.
Last week was the Tulip Festival here in Holland, Michigan. It is on my bucket list one day to visit during tulip time to see the estimated 4.5 million tulips on display in that city. It would be just my luck to arrange a trip during that one-week festival, and Michigan’s temperamental weather might have caused the tulips not to bloom yet. Not that I’m a pessimist, but one year my mom and I scheduled our vacation to coordinate with the peak colors for viewing the leaves in Northern Michigan, only to arrive there with still-green leaves on every tree. It was a fluke due to warmish weather that year, so the leaves had not yet turned the vibrant colors that local leaf peepers swarm up North to see.
I’ve never tried my luck with tulips since we have too many yard critters who are anxious to seek and destroy the bulbs. When we first moved to Michigan in 1966, my father ordered several dozen tulip bulbs from a nursery in the Netherlands. They were to grace the side garden. I can still remember his angry face when he came home from work to find the squirrels had dug up all the bulbs from the ground and hid them somewhere. There were holes and dirt piles where the squirrels had used their claws in a frenzy to access the freshly planted bulbs. That is … all but one bulb that they missed. For decades that one very tall and tenacious, yellow and red, mottled-looking tulip would break through the grass and bloom, despite the garden having been tilled and replaced with sod many decades earlier.
When they weren’t digging up the tulip bulbs for kicks, it seemed those pesky squirrels enjoyed chewing on the tall purple irises that graced the fence line. They’d pull apart the long and spiky-looking leaves from those plants, much like one peels the skin off a banana. They’d take a couple of bites, then cast the leaves aside. I eventually pulled all the irises out as they always were raggedy-looking.
Yup, those squirrels are mischievous little buggers sometimes.
One year I planted sunflowers and the squirrels would scale up the tall stalks, then creep and crawl along the edges of the flower. Sometimes they would use their acrobatic skills to leap from the fence while trying to reach the coveted “pan” of sunflower seeds. Their heavy bodies usually caused that colorful flower, resplendent with its end-of-Summer delectable striped seeds, to collapse and come tumbling down to the ground. The poor goldfinches were lined up along the fence, watching in dismay as the gluttonous squirrels feasted on the delicacy of ripened sunflower seeds.
And, if it wasn’t the squirrels, it was the bunnies. Sure those cute bunnies with the powderpuff tail that go streaking past you at the speed of sound, make you want to pick them up and stroke their soft fur and feed them carrots. But the warm fuzzies stop right there when they nibble on your tender plants. I went out in the yard one time to find an oversized bunny with several strands of my prized Bleeding Heart plant hanging out of his mouth, while he contently chomped on the tender leaves without a care in the world. I shooed him away, but he came back to finish his “meal” as evidenced when I went out to weed and water the next morning and most of the plant was gone.
That’s why I enjoy other people’s tulips that brighten my walk and I get my critter fix at the Park where I am happy to oblige them with a store-bought treat in their own element.