Monday, May 12, 2008

The Power of One

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


Alice said...

Lovely memories, Kylie, even if they did involve childhood escapades. I'm always thrilled when I see children appreciating the beauty of flowers.

Unknown said...

What a sweet story. I don't like to leave boquets on a grave. They die so quickly! I prefer a nicely rooted plant that will continue producing buds all summer for everyone to enjoy. But, maybe that's just me. The act of love in leaving a boquet of flowers had already been enacted. I hope to be able to leave my dad some flowers this summer when we go on our family vacation back to MN.

garden girl said...

Kylee, this story reminded me of my first home and first garden of my my own. Our yard was the neighborhood shortcut for elementary school children. There were a number of children who enjoyed picking the tulips, daffodils, peonies, and pretty much every other blooming thing they passed in my garden on their way to school in the mornings. I imagine they were presented to their teachers when they got to school.

Little by little every blooming thing would get picked for their brownie point bouquets, until I decided our sunny back porch was a nice spot for reading the morning newspaper and enjoying my morning coffee. I made sure to be out there at the right time. I never said a word to the kids about picking all my flowers. They still eyed them longingly, but resisted the temptation as long as I was there to greet them and wish them a good day at school. Every so often I'd snip a couple of blooms off for the kids to take to their teachers, while still leaving plenty for myself to enjoy.

Priscilla George said...

What a cute story. I don't think I ever did anything like that when I was younger. I always had it in my mind that if I picked a flower or leaf from a plant that it would hurt it because they are alive. ha. Nature calls to all old and young.

verobirdie said...

Lovely stories from childhood.
OK you don't take flowers from graves, but I've heard of people that asked that the flowers offered for their burial should be given to hospital to cheer up patients instead of roting on their graves. I think those people did love life.

Kylee Baumle said...

Alice ~ So am I! It just struck me as the most endearing, cute thing.

Cinj ~ I agree, Cinj, but then there's also that idea that the person is worth buying fresh flowers for. How seldom in our lives do people get them for us or do we even get bouquets for ourselves. I still don't understand why it wouldn't be okay to take a couple of flowers from a grave after the funeral. In many cases, most of the family won't be back there until they've all been cleared away and the freshly dug dirt has settled.

garden girl ~ Oh, that's priceless! They obviously knew they probably shouldn't take them, because once they were being watched, they stopped! But how nice that you shared anyway.

vanillalotus ~ Now why didn't I think like that?

verobirdie ~ What a wonderful idea!

Nancy J. Bond said...

The yellow tulip story is sweet, as are your recollections from your own days of "flower presentations. :)

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

What a charming post that was so wonderful to read. I had to smile through the whole thing as I read it. Thank you!

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Unknown said...

We did take some flowers off of my FIL's grave. One for each of us. MIL insisted we do it so we had a keep sake.

When my dad died I brought all of the flower boquets to all of the places he liked to visit for people to enjoy. Well, I kept one and my sister kept one too. We each left one flower on his grave. I know he would have liked that decision. He wasn't a person who liked us to waste things.

Anonymous said...

Great story, Kylie. It's good to remember the child's perspective when these annoying events happen to us gardeners. :-) As for me, I tromped right through the middle of a neighbor's vegetable garden once and got busted.

Rose said...

Lovely story, Kylee. I remember having to explain to my children several times not to pick flowers from our neighbor's garden. That's hard to do when they present these offerings with such good intentions.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Such a lovely story Kylee and thanks for sharing with us your own childhood pranks with flowers.

Bob said...

Ah Hah!!!
So Pipping flowers is not a recent Modus Operandi! The roots go back to your childhood!!! :snicker:

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I think your childhood logic is unassailable. The flowers left at the gravesite were just going to wither & brown & be thrown away anyway. You & your friend were simply early recyclers. :-)

Kylee Baumle said...

Nancy ~ Thank you! :-)

Cindy ~ Well, it made me smile, and I thought maybe it might make someone else smile, too. It really doesn't take much to make me smile. :-)

cinj ~ Yes, we have that same custom of taking one flower from the bouquets that get thrown on the grave.

Pam ~ Oh dear. That makes me remember the time I told Kara to stay out of the garden while she was out playing, because it had rained and it was very muddy. I think she was 3 or 4 years old and we only planted a few vegetables back then. A little while later, I looked out and there she was, knee-deep in mud in the garden. She had her boots on, but you couldn't even see them and she was stuck. Oh how I wish I'd taken a picture of her standing out there, wailing away because she couldn't move. It was pretty funny, but not to her. And yeah, she still got in trouble for doing it. LOL

Rose ~ You know, I don't remember my own girls doing such things, not even with our flowers, although when they were young, I didn't garden either. They did used to bring me dandelion bouquets, though. I loved that.

Yolanda Elizabet ~ Seems I've always had some contact with flowers, doesn't it? ;-)

Bob ~ Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h! :-p

Mr. McGregor's Daughter ~ Hey, yeah! Without even knowing it. It was instinct! :-)

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

I used to be a little girl like that. :) Thank you for reminding me when gardening 'began.' - k

Stacey Renee said...

I really enjoyed this story! Well written and captivating! Keep the stories comin'!

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