Archived Story

Four hundred and fifty bulbs

Published 10:11am Friday, February 10, 2012

When Paul returned from a business trip to a Home and Garden show in Baltimore, he struggled up the front steps lugging two enormous suitcases which was somewhat odd as he had left with but one.
“You’re going to hurt yourself.” I commented, unhelpfully, from the threshold.
Pushing past me to hoist his load through the front door, he panted, “I’ll have you know I have the body of an athlete!”
“But not in the suitcase, right?”
Ignoring the quip, he reached down and, with a flourish, unzipped the case to reveal its contents.
“Onions?” I queried. “You brought home a suitcase full of onions?”
“No, Martha Stewart,” he retorted, pulling one out and holding it close to my eyes to inspect. “Bulbs. Daffodil bulbs! Four hundred and fifty daffodil bulbs!”
“How on earth did you get them?”
“One of the reps at the show had filled an enormous bowl with them in another vendor’s booth, and when the show was over and everyone was leaving, nobody wanted them. No one had room in their gardens for them. But we,” Paul broke off, gesturing to the nearly 30 acres that make up our farm,. “have room! They’ve been kept in refrigerators for a month and are already sprouting. We need to get them in the ground today. So get changed, we need to plant.”
“But 450 -” I started.
“Now listen, Miss ‘I want a sea of daffodils like the ones I saw in Yorkshire.’” Paul cut me off. “All I’ve ever heard you say is how you wish you had huge drifts of daffodils down the driveway, around the barn and behind the rose beds. And now I’ve delivered. Come on, chop, chop.”
He was right, of course. Annoying, but right. It was just that I had only that moment sat down for a rest and a relaxing cup of tea.
And before I had a chance to ask him how, when I’ve been wrestled to the ground by the TSA over an eighth of an inch of shampoo in a bottle, he was able to skip through airport security with a suitcase full of bulbs, Paul had bounded out the door and was busy turning over the soil in the rose beds and along both sides of the barn.
Sighing, I followed and, after three quarters of an hour, stood up, groaning, to stretch my aching back. Glancing at my watch, I said, “I think I’ve been working at a pretty good clip!”
“Your progress,” said Paul, working feverishly a bed away. “could only be timed using a sun dial.”
“That’s ridiculous.” I countered.
“You’ve planted seven,” he replied, taking his empty basket and replacing it with another full one. “Lightning.”
Paul clearly planted the majority. I mustered around 30. But we’re both now like Tots awaiting Christmas, watchful for scores of tell-tale green shoots to appear and join the several others planted from years past.
“You know something?” I said, thinking aloud. “One day, when we’re long gone, whoever buys this place is going to have such a surprise come spring, when all the daffs appear. They’ll wonder who on earth could have planted so many.”
“Oh, they’ll know,” said Paul, dusting off the knees of his Carharts on his way into the house.
“How’s that?” I asked.
“Because I spelled out my name with some of them behind the rose beds.” he winked and wandered off for a cold one.
Even Martha Stewart wouldn’t have thought of that…

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