As I drove through historic West Central Neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this afternoon on the way to training, it was a beautiful sunny day. This was much appreciated after the cold, rainy Sunday we'd had.
The West Central area is charming , with its large old Victorian homes, many of them beautifully restored. There's a home and garden tour there each fall, and I've walked the tour a few times.
School had just let out and children were walking home. To my right, a small girl with long blonde hair, no older than five or six, was making her way down the sidewalk, backpack in tow. Just ahead of her, there was a walkway leading to the front door of one of the big old houses, lined with big yellow tulips on each side of it. They were in their prime, standing there like big yellow lollipops, glowing in the sun.
The little girl saw them, too. She walked a little ways past the walkway, then stopped. She quickly turned around, went back and plucked a single yellow tulip and went on her way. The temptation was just too much. I imagined what went through her mind in the course of just a few seconds...
"Ooooh, those flowers are pretty. I really would love to take one home. There are a lot of them. I bet they won't miss one."
Missed or not, the little act of a little girl wanting that flower just because its beauty was calling to her, brought a smile to my face. I don't know if the homeowner saw her take it nor do I know if they would care that she did. If it had been my tulips, it wouldn't have bothered me. It was only one.
I went on my way, too. The little girl was likely smiling as she walked home with her tulip, and I was smiling because I had witnessed her taking it. She probably didn't guess that perhaps when she got home and presented it to her mother, she'd have to account for how she came to have it. And that reminded me of a couple of days long ago in my own childhood.
I called my mom on my cell phone to share with her what I'd seen, and she giggled and said, "I remember a little girl that came home once with pockets full of peony buds." She'd remembered the same thing I had. More than forty years ago, my next-door-neighbor and I had taken all the ready-to-open peony buds off another neighbor's two peony bushes that were right in front of her house. She'd seen us do it and called our mothers.
I had to go and apologize and of course, I was embarrassed. But not half as embarrassed as my mother was the day a few years later when the same next-door-neighbor and I each brought home a beautiful bouquet of roses, daisies, mums, and who knows what else. My mom owned her own beauty shop and I walked in, pleased as punch with the flowers as I presented them to her, in front of several customers.
"Here, Mom! Look what I brought you!"
She looked at me funny - not nearly as excited or pleased as I'd expected, and she asked where I'd gotten them. (She likely was recalling the peony bud incident.) Kelly and I had been out riding bikes and we'd ridden to the cemetery. I don't need to tell you the rest, do I?
She gently told me that you shouldn't take flowers from a grave, something she never dreamed she would have to explain to me. In our young minds, they had served their purpose and they were just going to die out there anyway. I like to think that whomever the flowers were meant for was smiling down from heaven, knowing that yet another person was getting enjoyment from them.
All those memories brought back by a little blonde girl and a yellow tulip...
Photo of yellow tulips from Flowerella.com