Tulip Titillation

Their color spoke to me first – the scarlets and salmons, the serpent-like tongues of yellow lapping toward the edges – and then the softest gentlest green of the silver-tinged leaves. They were the ultimate antidote to the longest winter. They pushed all thoughts of that season far away, clearing the way for summer. It was the only outcome. How happy that the tulip heralded such a direction.

Second was their fragrance. Nothing overpowering, nothing too cloying or sweet. In fact, nothing to write much about at all, but it was the scent of spring, the scent of pure joy. It was not something that Tom Ford would try to bottle, it was not going to multiply by waves of bath gel or body lotion, it was a subtle smell, with just the slightest bit of spice to work its trance-like effect.

Finally, there was their history. I love a flower with a tale to tell. Especially one as twisted and tumultuous as the tulip’s. People paid fortunes for a single tulip bulb. A bit of feverish supply-and-demand madness, a crippling inflation, and a blight or two along the way – and all in the name of a single beautiful bloom. The power of the flower.

Some beautiful things defy logic and reason. Some things cannot be priced or valued in any such hum-drum manner. How to monetize the sublime? And why would you bother?

The moment you sully something so pure is the moment it starts to deteriorate.

Such prettiness demands a lighter touch, an effortless brushing by the merest of breaths. It is meant to be inhaled, like the purest of perfume, in ethereal fashion, unfettered by clumsy hands or the clutch of a greedy child.

I didn’t always understand this. My hands picked them from the garden – to covet, to cherish, to hold close. They fought back with their pollen, committing suicide with their fallen petals, or simply expiring in a wilted, lamentable heap of decomposing tissue. I too fell prey to the tulip craze – and I’d do it all over again to come so close to beauty.

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