Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bulb season

Their bulbs

Our bulbs

Max and Liliana got married down at city hall a year ago, and things are going so well that they decided to get married all over again, on Isla Mujeres, this year, for the benefit of Liliana's parents, who are from Mexico. Now they're back from their big trip, living with Max's folks, our neighbors across the street, while they fix up their new fixer-upper.

Kelly, Max's sister, is home for the holidays from her first semester at college, passing out fresh new ideas, such as that Max and Liliana should string up some Christmas lights out front. Sunday afternoon a week ago, just before the snow, Max and Lilo were out in the front yard, implementing Kelly's plan for lights that rocket up into the river birch and down again, and up into the big fir at the top of the slope, and so on gaily about the place.

This actually took some doing, and for part of the time we were out front with a garden trug full of bulbs from the Hortus Bulborum in the Netherlands -- tulip cultivars from centuries past. We slipped Duc van Tol Cochineal (from about 1700) and Viridiflora 'Red Hue' (before 1700) into our heavy clay soil, which is getting good and hard at this season, and stamped it down with our boots. We've done this many times before, and there were tulips and daffodils already pushing up in some of the holes: after almost 20 years, there aren't many spots without spring-flowering bulbs in our garden.

Max wanted to know what the temperature was. Only 38, Dan said, and we all agreed it wasn't so bad. We told the kids we just tucked 100 bulbs in the ground for a rainy day in the spring; Max did a quick calculation and said they had 3,000 bulbs right there, already aglow.

They have a pretty good show going right now. Our turn will come.