Today in the kitchen i look up from my work in the sink and see a single red tulip that i have placed into a glass because the stem broke and it would no longer fit into the vase with the others.
It captures me. I go back in time forty years.
I am 10 years old. We are living in Virginia and it is a glorious spring day, one of the first of the year. I am out in the yard, lying on my back beneath our flowering crab apple tree with my right arm extended up into the air. I am hoping that if i lie still long enough, one of the chickadees peeping around in the tree will come and land on my finger. I read about a girl in one of my books who did this. That the book was fiction does not deter me.
After a few minutes, bored and birdless, i turn my head to the right and see the most beautiful and unusual red flower i have ever seen. It's huge and its red petals are spread completely open in the bright spring sun.
I leap up, scattering the chickadees from the tree and run into the house to find someone to share my flower with.
My father, responding to my excitement, comes out and looks at the flower and agrees that yes, it is the most beautiful red flower he has ever seen. He goes inside to get his camera and comes back outside with his camera and tripod. While i cavort around him doing a spring dance for the flower, he takes a picture of it.
I run back inside and get my mother, so that she can see the world's most beautiful red flower too.
When she sees it she says "Oh for god's sake Bill, it's just a tulip," and goes back inside.
Deflated and sheepish we move on to doing something else.
For years, that slide was a family joke. The time my dad took a picture of "just a tulip."
I go back to the sink.