One of the best things about living in North Carolina is you get to experience all four seasons. Depending on where you are situated in North Carolina, you can enjoy plants and flowers that are native only in your particular neck of the woods. Tulips, I think are one of the prettiest flowers of all. If you take the time to plant them in the fall just before the weather gets too cold to dig deep enough for the buds, then when you are sitting looking out your window on a gloomy gray day, all of a sudden you might be surprised by a beautiful oval shape; lavender, tipped with pale yellow, maybe some pink and coral, violet and white, all held up on the prettiest green stem. That, my friend, is a tulip and it is peeking its little head up, along with a bunch of its friends (if you planted a handful), reminding you that soon, the sunny, warmer days will return and with them, even more of the colorful vegetation to catch your eye.
When I was in grade school, we lived about a half-mile from where the bus would drop us off at the end of the school day. My brothers and I did not mind, however, because there were so many pretty sites on our walk home. There was a big tank that had a spout situated in it just right for a cool drink. This site came at the latter part of our walk, and on a warm day, it was at just the perfect place for a drink of water before we headed on up the driveway to our home. That was the sweetest water I have ever tasted, always cold too because it was in a shady spot. We'd pass a pretty little farm with a not so pretty tree my brothers used to tell me was haunted by a mad pig that the neighbor butchered there. I always walked kind of fast by that area if I was by myself. Of course, if my brothers were with me, I acted like it was no big deal.
The prettiest spot on our way home from the bus stop, though, was the rectangular tulip bed that sat directly in front of (I'll call her Mrs. Blanden to protect the innocent) Mrs. Blanden's house. I had never seen so many different colors of tulips in the short time I had been here on earth. I also noted the beautiful green color of the stems, "sea green - that's what color that is," I would think to myself, "like my favorite green crayon." Mrs. Blanden's kitchen window looked directly out onto that tulip bed. I guess she and Mr. Blanden planned it that way, perhaps because she knew my brothers and I would be walking past it every day after school. One spring day, my brother Jim, who for the most part on any given day liked to get into a bit of mischief, seemed to be particularly taken by Mrs. Blanden's tulips. I noticed this because he had mentioned how he wished dad would plant some of those kinds of flowers, especially since we seemed to have every other kind of flower known to man around our house. That day, however, he just seemed to be itching to pinch a couple of those pretty tulips more than anything; kind of like when we'd get chigger bites from sitting in the grass in the backyard too long in shorts, and about dark our legs would itch so bad we'd scratch until we brought blood from digging those bites. That was what it made me think of, how I just could not quit scratching those bites - that must have been how bad Jim wanted to pick those tulips that day. I guess when he could stand it no longer, he kind of tore away from the rest of us, grabbed as many as his hand could quickly pinch at a run, and pulled as hard as he could (and he had big hands, so he must have pulled up about 12 tulips in that one fail swoop). I remember thinking how sad Mrs. Blanden's tulip bed looked with that gaping bare place left there. Just at that very moment, I glanced with great reluctance at Mrs. Blanden's window, praying silently that she was gone to the grocery store or maybe in her bathroom, but to my dismay, there she stood at her window gazing out at my brother, and the rest of us, with the kind of expression you might remember your brother giving you when you ate the last popsicle out of the box but left the empty box in the freezer and he, after a hot summer day, had been looking forward to that popsicle all day. If, as the saying goes, looks could kill, I guess he would not have made it home that day. He never picked them ever again, but that day, momma had the prettiest vase of flowers on the supper table she ever saw. I remember how happy she looked as she gazed at their beauty and said only Mrs. Blanden had tulips that pretty, and I thought but didn't say, "she still is the only one who does."
I've always loved the colors lavender and green together. Something about the softness of lavender and the happiness of green just makes me feel happier. I guess because these colors are synonymous with spring. I was in the kitchen cleaning up the lunch dishes and a quick glance out the window into the back yard caught my attention - the pear trees were almost in full bloom. Huge sticks projecting every which way, with puffs of cotton dotted with little pink tufts. The blossoms look like something you with which you would stuff a pillow. The ground underneath is beginning to turn green, peppered with these tender, white and pink blossoms. What a wonderful artist God is to provide us every Spring with such beauty, lovingly painted in more colors than the imagination can dream. These used to be my favorite tree to climb in the spring. They were just small enough, and the limbs just low enough I could manage to shimmy up into the tree without my brothers' help. There is just one downside to climbing them in the spring, however. The bees like these blossoms too. You've not experienced pain until you have been impaled on the backside by a bee hidden in one of those blossoms. Better just to look until the blossoms turn to leaves.
Pack up some fruit in the basket of your bike or stuff some in your jacket pocket, and take a leisurely trip around the block and view the canvas God has painted for the pleasure of your senses today. Check out the freckled blossoms on the trees, experience the deepest yellow of the daffodils, and the rainbow of colors in the tulips. But, remember, enjoy them by viewing with your eyes and not pinching them with your fingers - your neighbor worked hard last fall planting them for all to enjoy, her included.