Matthew and I planted bulbs yesterday. Actually, to be more precise, I planted them while Matthew dug in the dirt with a trowel, turning it over and over, then used the hand rake to make small neat lines in the soil. It was very nice to be sharing that garden time with my little guy. It was a downright gorgeous day — after the coldest summer in forty years, our fall has been positively balmy. Though I’d love some slightly colder weather to really get into the autumn spirit, I can’t deny that it was a positively perfect day.
I’m a big fan of bulbs. I love how they sit quietly underground for months, finally sending forth little green spears, then they eventually grow into a tulip or daffodil or hyacinth. They are the ultimate example of delayed gratification. It’s kind of like ordering from a catalog: you place the order, then have the delicious anticipation of checking the mailbox each day until that carton arrives. Bulbs are also an example of low-maintenance delight. There is very little in my life that does not need constant, unrelenting attention — the boys, the housework, the grading, the lesson planning, even the writing. It’s a treat to spend a quiet morning in the fall with a trowel and a few bags of bulbs, wrinkled and ugly and looking like onions, and then to do nothing at all to them, only to be rewarded with perfect petals of red and yellow and purply-blue. You dig a hole, throw in a bulb, pat the dirt, and let time and nature do the rest. It’s a relief to have something like that in my busy life these days: minimal effort, magnificent results.