Rites of Fall
I spent all day yesterday at the community garden plot I share with friends. I was weeding and turning over soil and getting the plot ready for winter. I was also planting tulip bulbs. Today, I spent part of the morning taking pictures of the tulip bulbs I couldn't bear to plant just yet. I can't bear to plant them because I'm just so in love with them.
I fall in love with tulips every spring, caress their stems and think them signs of the rising in all of us. But I didn't realize until yesterday, when I put my first bulbs in the ground, how much each bloom is a promise fulfilled. So now I'm completely smitten with the bulbs themselves—the soft, smooth, mother-of-pearl arms wrapped around the infant heart of spring—and also with the ritual of their planting.
I never understood before what an act of utter faith it is to plant a tulip. To drop something so perfect in itself under inches and inches of dirt with the belief that it's the brutality of our winters and the frozen ground and blankets of snow and ice that will allow it to give birth come spring.
I'm not quite sure of it, frankly. Right now, that faith is requiring a leap across a chasm at the bottom of which is every plant I've ever killed suffering through a hell of harsh, snow-filled winters. This is because, though I love gardening, I am not good at it. Actually, let me revise. I do not love gardening. I love planting and harvesting. All the rest in between seems like a lot of regularly-scheduled bother. It's no surprise, then, that I'm not good at it. And so right now, it seems pretty miraculous that I could plant a tulip bulb, cover it up all nice and cozy for the winter, and expect a tulip come spring. But the universe seems intent on asking me to have faith, let go, and trust that there are rhythms that, though not comfortable for me, are How Things Are Done. So I dropped them in, bulb by bulb, covered them over with very nice dirt, and waved goodbye. Except for these three here. These three bulbs will live in the small kamani wood bowl that sits on my desk and remind me of the importance of promises made and the part faith plays in their fulfillment.