Melisandra ran into the house and pulled me by the hand to the front door. “Mom, I gotta show you something,” she said. “But you need to close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes. She guided me down our front steps. I peeked, since I didn’t want to trip, since I wasn’t sure what shenanigans she had planned. I closed my eyes again and let her take me down the sidewalk. She grabbed my waist to turn me to face our front yard.
“There. Open your eyes.”
Here is what I saw.
“The tulips are blooming,” she said. “Aren’t they beautiful?”
Yes. They were. Five little smiles in the middle of the muck of dried leaves and dead grass. I felt as if the company had arrived before I finished cleaning my house.
Years ago, the first spring I lived here, I didn’t know I owned tulips until they poked out of the dirt. They came up in a circle around the mature apple tree that shaded our front yard. Back then, I barely knew a thing about tulips or any plant for that matter. I have since become an enthusiastic gardener.
After we had to cut the apple tree down, the circle of tulips stayed, and I replaced the hostas and lawn with a garden with native grasses, zinnas, day lilies, and creeping asters. My nine-year-old Melisandra has also developed a strong interest in planting annuals and taking care of all things growing in the dirt.
Now, I think of our tulips as the first guests of the season. I anticipate their arrival with the same preparation I give to friends who are coming over for supper. But instead of scrubbing the floor and setting out fresh towels, I rake. I cut back the zebra grass and sedum. I pull the weeds, all in an effort to make the tulips feel happy about showcasing their colorful blooms in a clean space.
Last year, my preparations for company unearthed my perennials in early April. They got cold in the night air and opted not to grow and stretch as the sun prepped the dirt for summer. My established patch of daisies looked smaller than normal. This spring, I decided to wait a bit before cleaning. And now, surprise! The tulips are knocking on my door, ready to play.
It’s a good surprise. But they will have to love me, like good friends do, for my less than stellar looking garden and cluttered home, and know that, despite my lack of preparations, they are a welcome sight.