Mini Tulip Festival an Ode to Planning

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I have a thing for tulips. I love seeing them pop out of the ground in the spring. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as an entire field of tulips. I’m equally captivated by lavender fields, though I have only seen one in photos. It’s definitely on my bucket list and the subject of another post.

Nonetheless, a friend suggested I walk down Park Ave to see a house with a ton of tulips when I mentioned I wanted to go to Holland, Michigan, to the tulip festival. I went to the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan, once thirty-six years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son. I don’t remember anything at all about the trip. We would have eaten some if there was food like elephant ears and corn dogs. Back then, I wasn’t into boutiques like I am today, so I can’t imagine we did much shopping. The only evidence I have of the day existed was a photo of me and my grandmother pointing at the tulips.

As much as I love tulips, I never planted any in my yard.  I always feared I wouldn’t be there to see them come in in the spring. Tulips must be planted in the fall six to eight weeks before the ground freezes. I tend to be more of an immediate gratification kind of girl. There is this underlying fear that I will not be able to enjoy the results of my labor. It reminds me of writing. 

Ideas and stories often take an extended time to establish themselves, like the six to eight months it takes tulip bulbs to germinate in the ground. There is a lot of planning and effort well before you have a finished product. I often fear that I will lose interest in the project or it won’t be relevant by the time I am done. 

I once attempted to plant tulips in the fall. We had been living in our house in Naperville, Illinois for a while, and I was confident I would be there to see the bulbs bloom. I don’t know if I didn’t plant them deep enough or too late in the season because none of my tulips came up. It was discouraging. 

Though I have never trusted the process enough to try again, I marvel at the foresight and planning of the gardeners who do. It is akin to how I feel when one of my friends publishes another book. And though I long to publish again, there is a twinge of fear that I don’t have the wherewithal to see it through to the end.

The walk down to the house to see what my friend was talking about was well worth it. The entire property was covered with tulips, but not in a haphazard way. Some tulips lined the outside of the wooden fence. Inside the fence were carefully crafted flower beds with tulips, blooming ground cover, and a babbling brook. There was even a tall birdhouse with many red tulips at the base. Big stones bordered some of the flower beds, and there was a dip in the yard like a valley with tulips planted there. 

I wondered how long it took that gardener to plan and execute that garden. Were there any bulbs that didn’t come up? It’s made me think a lot about trusting the process. Perhaps it isn’t all about the finished product or the bloomed tulips. Maybe there is joy in the planning and the effort. 

It made me so happy walking past that house. I stopped and took a couple of pictures. I wanted to linger and walk around inside the fence as if I were at a mini tulip festival. As I headed back home, I had a renewed desire to get back to cultivating the garden of my writing, determined to focus more on the process than the finished product. And this fall, I may even pop a bulb or two of tulips in the ground in front of my house. 

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