Mirthright: Fishing for Tulips


Fishing for Tulips

Being the avid gardener that I am, I decided one year to border my vegetable garden with rows of tulips. I carefully planned how each row would go and selected a variety of colorful bulbs. I even dug the trench according to the suggested depth and very carefully measured, by ruler, how many inches it was to be from the fence, how many from the garden edge. I spent most of one day setting out fifty bulbs, and then raked the dirt over them in such a way that this spot looked as if it had never been disturbed. Come spring, I thought, those tulips will be the most beautiful sight in the entire neighborhood.

Pleased with my day’s work, I cleaned up and went shopping. On the way back I stopped to visit a friend, and it was nearly dark when I returned home. As I was preparing the evening meal, I looked out the patio doors to admire my carefully cultivated tulip bed.

Before me lay a scene of total ruin. I rushed out to check the damage. Some of the bulbs were on top of the ground. Mounds of dirt were piled everywhere. Someone must dislike me very much, I reasoned: One of the neighbor boys had watched me plant the tulips and then when I left decided to unplant them. As I returned to the house I let the tears come.

When my husband came home, I told him my sad story. Then, leading him by the hand, I took him out to see the scene of destruction. He looked it over, was silent for several long seconds, and then said, very hesitantly, “Honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t know about the tulips. I came home early and when you weren’t here I decided to go fishing and I needed some worms.”

We had an interesting conversation for the next ten minutes, after which he tried to replant the bulbs and straighten out the rows as best he knew how while I sulked in the house. I kept thinking, here we farm 1500 acres of land and he digs worms in my tiny garden in the backyard!

Spring finally came, and with it all 50 of those bulbs—in full bloom. They were gorgeous. Of course there was one here, one there, one in my strawberry patch, one right in the middle of the lettuce, several towering magnificently over the radishes, carrots, and onions. But they bloomed. At the peak of their beauty, a neighbor came over one day and remarked, “You sure do have a green thumb. Only someone with your ingenuity would think to plant tulips like that.” Ingenuity?

Finally I told this neighbor what had really happened, and my husband told a few of his friends. The secret was out. Only then did I see the humor in the situation. Friends would call and ask for permission to dig worms amidst the tulips to go fishing. Everyone commented profusely about what beautiful tulips I grew.

A couple of years ago I dug up all those bulbs and replanted them according to my original plan. No destructive interference took place this time, minor or major, and they all came up. And they produced gorgeous blooms again. But I have to admit—my husband’s system got the most attention.

Aney B. Chatterton, mother of three, serves as organist in her Soda Springs, Idaho, ward.