Snow and Tulips

b squirrelstepsThis morning I opened the front door to this. That was one busy squirrel, and I have no idea what he was after. No nuts, no berries, no breadcrumbs or birdseed. Was it warm, being near the house? But it doesn’t look like he rested, or even stopped. Was that two busy squirrels, chasing each other? I’d opened the door in order to sweep the snow off the steps, but this was too amusing to mess with and I didn’t plan to go out right then, so I left it.

Next time I opened the door, fresh snow had covered the tracks. A great, big coming alongsnowstorm moved in this afternoon, predicted to pile up deep and opulent by morning, delicate enough to make humble objects ethereal, powerful enough to stop traffic. What a lovely background for my array of potted bulbs on the windowsill.

b coming along moreThe first round of tulips has already bloomed and faded, the second pot is going strong, and a little further down the shelf the Apricot Beauties prepare for their star turn. The paperwhites stick their small green snouts up, testing the air, and the amaryllis stick their necks out, some a little more, some a little less.

Glancing at one of the new bloomers, I thought there was a bug on it. Close examination revealed that the odd little extra wing was part of the petal. Imagine if you were a too tulipDutch tulip breeder edging into the tulipmania of 1636. Might you cross this with a fringed tulip, or a ruffly one, for an even more elaborate effect? Would you make a fortune (quick, before the market collapsed) with a new variety? This made me realize I don’t know anyone who ever raised a tulip from seed. This, naturally, led me to the googly discovery that growing tulips from seed is “laborious and won’t yield a flower for at least seven years” (Thank you Jann Seal on SFGate). Also, tulips bear their seeds in pods. Why have I never noticed a tulip pod? Probably because I cut the stems back once the flower is clearly falling apart. So, here’s a new project. I will let at least some of those spent blooms stand, and maybe next month I can show you a tulip seed pod. And if the snowstorm lives up to its billing, maybe I’ll have a nice snowman for you, too.

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