Snow, Bud, and Blossom
It was nearing the end of fall, and a cold breeze blew through the garden, causing the last few leaves to fall from the wise old tree. They drifted down to the ground below, where many of the flowers were preparing to go to sleep for the winter. The plants were tired and the winter would be too cold for them to be able to grow or bloom. They wished each other a peaceful winter as they folded up their petals and leaves to sleep.
The tree had seen the seasons change many times since he was a young sapling, from spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and then back again to spring. He told the flowers to have a nice rest and that he would see them again in the spring.
Near the garden, in the gardener’s house, it was cozy and warm. A small fire burned, adding a glowing cheerfulness to the living room, where the gardener and his wife were sitting. The gardener was planning what he was going to plant in his garden the next year.
He asked his wife, “Grace, do you have any ideas about what I should plant next spring in our garden?”
The wife answered, “Gary, you always grow such beautiful things in the garden every year. There is one thing we have never planted though—a tulip. They are such lovely spring flowers.”
“That is a wonderful idea,” replied the gardener. “Now is the perfect time to plant a tulip as well, before the ground is frozen over. Tulips need to be planted the year before and stay in the ground all winter in order to sprout and bloom in the spring. Any later and the weather will be too cold for me to plant it. I will go tomorrow morning to the market and buy one.”
* * *
The next morning, bright and early, the gardener made his way to the flower market. He had bought many young plants and seeds there, and knew exactly what he wanted this time. Most of the seeds he would not plant until spring, but tulips were special.
Meanwhile a little tulip bulb, that looked very much like an onion, lay on a market stand with a lot of other tulip bulbs. This particular tulip was very eager. It was her first day at the market and she was sure that she would be bought by someone today. She could hardly wait.
She noticed someone walking straight to the stall where she was impatiently waiting to be noticed. Quite a few people had passed by this morning, but this tall man was the first who actually came to the stall. The tulip bulb wished she could bounce up and down and say, “Pick me! Pick me!” She waited and hoped, but the man turned away.
“Oh,” the little bulb thought in despair. “I am never going to be bought.” Just then, the man came back with a bag. He picked her up and gently placed her in the bag.
“I am taking you home with me,” said the gardener, “to be planted in my garden.”
The little bulb was thrilled as she thought to herself: “Oh, I am just so happy! I can’t wait. I am going to start growing the very second I get planted inside the soil. I want to grow right away into a big plant with many lovely tulips.”
Once the gardener arrived home, he went straight to the garden, found his spade, and began to dig. He made a deep hole, put the tulip bulb inside, and covered it with soft soil and sand. It was a little bit cold and dark, but the tulip did not mind. “I will be sprouting out of here any day now!” she thought to herself, and began to wait.
The tulip waited under the ground all the rest of that day, and then through the night, and the next day, and the next night as well! Still, nothing was happening.
The following morning was cold and still, as the first snowfall of the year gently blanketed the garden, beginning to cover many of the flowers and plants. The tree stood above the carpet of snow. He thought about the four seasons, and tried to decide which one he liked best of all. Although during the winter he missed the sights and sounds of the other seasons, he enjoyed the peace and quiet and the chance to rest as he waited patiently for the spring to come. Each year the garden looked a little bit different, as the gardener usually tried to get some new plant or flower. Just the other day, in fact, he had noticed the gardener planting something that looked like an onion. The tree wondered what it would grow into once spring arrived.
The tree was busy thinking that very thought when he heard a frustrated noise coming from under the ground. “Is everything okay?” asked the tree.
“Who is that?” said the little voice.
“I am a wise old tree, and who are you?”
“I am a little tulip bulb. I was planted so long ago, and I still have not begun to sprout and grow. It has been two whole days already!”
The tree laughed a deep and hearty laugh. “Two days, little bulb; it takes more time than that to grow.”
“How many more days will it take? Three? Four? It seems like I have been waiting so long. Oh, how I want to grow big and beautiful, and blossom lovely tulips!” the little bulb cried impatiently.
“Everything takes time to grow, little flower, whether it be a tree, a plant, or a little bee or butterfly. If everything grew all in one day and you did not have to wait for anything, it would not be so special, to watch things grow and enjoy each stage that life brings.”
“What is a stage?” asked the little voice beneath the ground.
“A stage is a part of life. Like when a human grows: first they are a newborn baby; then they begin to walk and talk. Afterwards, they start to run and learn many things as a child. They grow older and become a teenager. Then finally, they are an adult, and still they learn many things, as they continue to go through the stages of life.”
“When will I start to grow though? I do not even have a tiny sprout or anything!” replied the tulip.
“What you do not see right now, little tulip, is that it has begun to snow. It is cold, and the ground will soon freeze over. The covering of snow will remain for a long time, throughout the winter. If you began to grow now, your little stem and leaves would not be strong enough to last through the cold winter. You would shrivel up and die. The best thing to do is rest, and when the spring arrives, you will be ready to grow big and strong. I promise.” The tree tried his best to reassure the little bulb that was so eager to grow.
The tulip spoke again. “I think I understand. Thank you for explaining it to me. I will try to have patience and rest so that I will be ready when the springtime comes.”
“That is good. Have a good rest. I will see you when all the little plants begin to grow.”
At that, the little bulb grew quiet and tried her best to rest. Finally she fell asleep, and remained that way the whole winter through.
* * *
Little by little, the snow started to fall less often; the sun started shining more, showing little patches of dark brown ground here and there. Underneath one patch of ground, the little bulb woke up. She noticed a tiny shoot of green beginning to sprout. “It’s time!” she whispered to herself excitedly. Every day the green shoot grew a little more, until one morning, the little green sprout broke through the ground, and the tulip finally saw the big world around her.
The first thing she noticed was a big tree that had also begun to grow bright green leaves. “Hello!” she called up to the tree that towered above her.
“Well, hello, little sprout! I see that you have finally pushed your way through the ground, just at the right time too! Did you have a nice winter rest?”
“Yes, thank you! I am so glad I did. Now I feel ready to grow and I am so excited that it is spring at last!”
“So am I,” said the tree. “So am I.”
One by one, the other plants and flowers began to wake up; their leaves started growing. All the plants in the garden were so glad that spring had come, and with it, a new stage of growth and experiencing new and happy times. Happiest of all was the little tulip, because she had learned that everything takes time to grow but that waiting patiently for something made her so happy once it finally happened.
Pretty soon, blossoms were bursting out everywhere, bringing color and life to the entire garden. The very first plant to blossom was the tulip, with a beautiful light blue flower. The gardener called his wife out to see, and they both admired the lovely little tulip.
“That is the most beautiful tulip I have ever seen!” exclaimed the wife; and the gardener wholeheartedly agreed.