Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – October 6, 2004
Glass Flowers & Wooden Tulips
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – October 6, 2004 – I absolutely love fresh flowers, and if I was filthy rich – or even clean and rich – I’d have them in every room of my house, all the time. While I work on the rich bit, I have some alternatives that serve me well.
A few years ago I spent my birthday in Port Hope with friends. We wandered along the main street and stopped in at all the little shops. In one of them I spotted a red tin bucket filled with every imaginable colour of wooden tulips. Each brightly coloured flower was attached to a green stem complete with leaves. I put a colourful bouquet together and loved how they looked – funky and cheerful. My friend Lorna and her mother who I always called Nana Bear said I should definitely buy them.
I hummed and hawed and did the usual, “I need these like a hole in the head” routine and moved along to look at braided rugs, pottery, place mats, quilts and other crafty stuff. The tulips, at seven dollars each, were soon out of my mind.
We continued to putter along the street for another hour or so and then decided that a pub lunch was in order. We found the perfect spot down a side street and settled into an outdoor table overlooking the river. It was one of those delicious, lazy summer days – blue sky, wispy clouds, warm sun – no humidity. We ordered lunch and sat and talked about the all things that friends cover in a catch-up conversation. Work, money, children, travel, pets, gardening, problems, worries and small victories.
As we waited for our coffee and dessert, Lorna told me to close my eyes and count to ten. Upon command I opened them to discover my wonderful bouquet of wooden tulips. She and Nana Bear had bought them for me as a birthday gift. I was delighted. They stand in a white vase on a pine chest in my second floor hallway. They are endlessly colourful and pleasing. In summer they remind me to enjoy the short season of real tulips, and in winter they serve as a promise of renewed life, when the sun melts away the sleet and snow.
I don’t talk to Lorna much anymore. Our paths in life have gone in different directions, but when I look at those wonderful, wooden tulips, I remember that beautiful, warm summer day when we had lunch in Port Hope, and her generous gift to me on my birthday.
I also have a vase of flowers in the kitchen that make me smile every morning as I wait for the kettle to boil for tea. These blooms are made of glass – seven in all. Three of them are clear glass tulips and the remaining four are coloured flowers of an indeterminate variety. The reds, blues, greens and yellows are bright and bold. I bought them from a Chinese street vendor in Gerrard Square last December. They were three dollars each and I wish I’d bought two dozen of them.
I went back a few days before Christmas to buy a few more but she had packed up and gone. I hope she’s there again this Christmas. I’d like to buy a bouquet for some friends, for no other reason than that they’re lovely and guaranteed to make you feel good. They don’t need fresh water, they don’t lose their colour, they won’t wilt and die and they never need to be replaced.
So until I win the lottery or find some other scathingly brilliant way to make extra money just for fresh flowers, I’m going to continue to enjoy my wooden tulips and my glass flowers. This is such a wonderful way to have thoughts of summer with me during every season and to remember how small, inexpensive things can add joy to everyday living. Try it.