How do Tulips Whistle?

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Today was a wet, dreary day capturing all that brings us down as the winter drags. Mary Lou and I had gone to Compass Lake, hoping to catch a bit of Florida sunshine and perhaps a cruise around the lake. Alas, it was not meant to be.

We arrived on Sunday evening after dark. The stars were brilliant in the dark sky, the waxing crescent moon just about to disappear in the west. Two hours later, I walked out onto the dock to take a last glimpse of the starry sky, but the clouds had already moved in.

The next morning, we took off on a walk around the lake. It was 46 degrees, and the moisture was evident in the air. Rain was moving in by 10 am so it was now or never to get our exercise for the day.

The wind was blowing across the open water as we started which made the first mile the most difficult. A quarter of an hour later we began to get some protection from trees as our angle into the north wind changed. Everything was gray and gloomy.

Along the way we did not see much color. A brilliantly hued bluebird landed in a tree nearby. A male and female robin flew briefly around us. Other than that, everything seemed pale and colorless. A landscape that can capture your mindset if you are not careful.

The rain came right on time. The sound of the water hitting the tin roof, the hot shower after a cold walk and bowl of steaming chili for lunch all combined to urge me to do the most logical thing on a day like this; take a nap.

Following our granddaughter’s Monday evening basketball game for the league championship (they won!), we headed back to Auburn. The misty rain followed us out of Dothan on the way home.

The next morning, I walked in our yard. We spent a good bit of the past year reworking our landscaping, planting quite a number of new flowers and trees. Our goal now and in our previous home in Donalsonville was to have a yard that always had color and something blooming, no matter the time of year. The Japanese paperbush plant is a new addition to our yard and is currently blooming in the worst weather of the winter. Creamy yellow flowers bloom and dangle after all the leaves fall off in somewhat of a reversal of spring.

I was excited to see that the tulips in our yard are bursting forth, standing at attention like an army of plants, on the cusp of showing all their color. We have 900 tulips from Holland in our flower beds this year. They have endured some crazy weather, survived a false start that was followed by a hard freeze. Their show is about to begin.

A dark, dreary, depressing day followed by the promise of spring, teased by the tulips, and bluebirds and robins. Nature has a way of lifting our spirits. Our spirits can use some lifting after all the challenges of the past couple of years.

My favorite artist, the French impressionist Claude Monet, once said “I must have flowers, always and always”. That is why we work to have flowers and color at our home year-round.

Lady Bird Johnson said, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope”. Is there any better reason to surround yourself with the limitless colors of nature?

And in my favorite quote about tulips, though made anonymously, a flower lover with a sense of humor once asked, “Anyone know how flowers whistle?” Through their tulips (two lips), of course.