This story, about how I found God’s grace in something as simple as tulips, is a bit long. So with that in mind, I have divided this story into 3 parts. This way, if someone wants to read it, they can read a section at a time and come back for subsequent parts on their own time schedule.
It was the fall of 2001 and the autumn season was lingering. When I was growing up, my mom always called this warm fall weather, an indian summer. I was loving every minute of it as fall is my very favorite time of year. I LOVE everything about it. Football. Crisp mornings and mild afternoons that lend well to shorts and a sweatshirt. Bonfires. The colors of God’s paintbrush. Pumpkins. Hay rides. Apple orchards. Indian corn. Chili. Lazy walks with crunching leaves. Harvest moons. Combines and wagons. Ham sandwiches on the tailgate of a truck in the middle of a corn field. So the unseasonably warm weather that was lasting well into late November was fine by me.
I have worked in the banking industry for the majority of my adult life. So this meant that I got a few extra holidays throughout the year. Veteran’s Day was one of those extra holidays. I generally have the news on in the morning while we are getting our day started. Veteran’s Day would bring special segments that would air, reflecting on those who have served our country and honoring their service. I would linger for a while to watch these segments and feel thankful for the country in which I live and for those who have made individual sacrifices for the benefit of many. But I’m ashamed to admit that my focus soon turned to planning out the rest of my day.
**Note (In the last 7 years, I have personally experienced the many sacrifices that military families make. While I have never had to deal with someone close to me paying the ultimate sacrifice for our country, I have seen great sacrifice up close and personal none the less. My son-in-law has been deployed 4 times during active conflicts in the middle east. He, our daughter and our granddaughter have sacrificed mightily for this great country of ours. I now have a deeper respect and reverence for our soldiers and their families than I did 16 years ago)
So, on to how I planned to spend the rest of that day. Since I had the day off, I had planned to head to the city and start some Christmas shopping. I have always had a goal to get my Christmas shopping done BEFORE December. I don’t do crowds, or congested parking lots, or long lines. The emphasis on santa everywhere you turn gets me riled up, so I just try to avoid shopping after the calendar says December. So, over the river and through the woods to the big city I went.
My first stop was at one of those big box stores to stock up on necessities. In 2011, we had 5 of us in the house and went through toilet paper like nothing you’ve ever seen. While I was there, something else caught my eye. (This ALWAYS happens to me. I swear they know I’m coming and they know my weakness and they place it front and center as I enter the store.) On this particular day, the “something else” that caught my eye was tulip bulbs. And let me tell you, they had those things marked down to next to nothing. Remember, it was November 11th after all. I’m an avid gardener and an avid gardener doesn’t pass up tulip bulbs when the store is practically paying you to take them off their hands. I was flipping excited! I didn’t have a single tulip in my landscaping and I was already plotting the whereabouts of their planting as I stood there smitten over my bargain. I hurried myself along thinking that if I got home in time, I could get these babies in the ground later that afternoon.
I must have stayed on task and scurried along because I did arrive back home around 3:00 that afternoon. I gathered the 4 bags of tulip bulbs that I had bought, a spade and some bone meal. I dumped out the first a bag of tulip bulbs on my garage floor and realized something. Big box stores don’t sell anything in small quantities. Evidently this was true for tulip bulbs as well. Each bag didn’t contain 10 or 12 tulip bulbs like most places sell. Each bag had 50. That’s right, FIFTY tulip bulbs. 50 tulips X 4 bags = TWO HUNDRED tulip bulbs. Now, here is a little fact for you about avid gardeners, we rarely throw plants away. It is the cardinal sin in the gardening world. So……. over the next two days, I found spots for all 200 tulips.
Continued in part 2 of this series