Many years ago when our children were all still at home, we decided it was time to try to grow children and flowers in the same yard. I thought all the children understood that flowers looked prettier in the yard than in a vase in the house.
We invested in a variety of bulbs and planted them at the proper time and depth and settled back to wait for the colorful flowers to raise their petals. I was looking forward to knowing that at least some of the colorful objects in the yard were flowers instead of broken “unbreakable” plastic toys.
Spring came early in May that year, but the flowers didn’t. Just when we decided those bulbs had become chipmunk food, the leaves began to poke through. We all watched and waited. Finally a bright yellow daffodil nodded at us.
We congratulated each other like proud new parents, and then slowly our fascination waned as more flowers popped forth. We began to take them for granted, or most of us did. The three youngest were very involved with each new bloom. They would summon me with, “Mommy, come see!”
I’d look out the window and say, “Oh, how pretty.” They’d smile and go on to play. But one day I didn’t “come see” fast enough, so in very short order I had a lovely bouquet of extremely short stemmed posies, which we carefully arranged in several soup bowls.
Apparently the information chain had been broken between child number five and six. We had a nice chat about flowers being prettier in the yard, and they agreed not to pick any flowers in our yard without getting permission first.
The very next day the three-year-old brought me a lovely bouquet of bright red tulips. “Oh, they’re very pretty, but you promised not to pick any more flowers in our yard without permission.”
“I didn’t,” she assured me calmly. “These are from the neighbor’s yard.”
By the time a mother gets to the eighth child, she should know that children follow the absolute literal letter of any and all rules. Flowers from the neighbor’s yard just were not covered in the previous day’s discussion
Fortunately, the neighbor considered herself a surrogate grandmother to all eight of our children, and she was willing to accept some of her tulips, an apology, and a promise not to pick any more flowers anywhere without permission.
I sat back and smiled, sure that all loopholes had been closed and all the flowers in the neighborhood were safe from plucking by any of our brood. But at lunch time the next day I looked out the kitchen window and saw that most of the flowers had been plucked again.
Before I had a chance to yell at anyone I witnessed the guilty parties in action. We had two overgrown black lab pups that had become real flower children. As I watched, one of them pranced up, neatly nipped off a hyacinth, and tossed it to the other pup.
They chased each other through the yard until the flower was demolished. Then they nipped back for another bloom and continued the game.
Explaining to pups that the flowers looked prettier in the yard was beyond me, so we decided to wait until they grew up to raise flowers. They did grow up and are long gone, but we didn’t get around to raising flowers until lately.
My first efforts were mowed down by my lawn-loving husband. The next attempt was beautiful in its first year, but unfortunately was scooped up and replanted in the way-back yard by a construction crew when we decided to build a garage and driveway.
With the help of our grandson, the old bulbs plus a bunch of new ones were replanted along the driveway last fall. They were in full bloom when the snow came a week ago – bunch after bunch containing yellow daffodils, red tulips and deep blue grape hyacinths. Well worth waiting for all these years.
The only problem is this old lady’s fascination with them. Every time I go up or down the driveway, I find myself looking at the beautiful flowers, and one of these days I’m probably going to drive right through them and the new white fence.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate May 4, 2005.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.