(True story, unfortunately.) It was a zippity-doo-da New England spring day….the kind you only dream about in the dead of winter. Birds sang, the sun shone, the azure sky was dotted with lazy cotton ball clouds. It was 2004, the first spring in our new home, and we reveled in each emerging perennial.
The red tulips were in their glory, and I eagerly anticipated a spring bouquet.
Spring Massacre by allie taylor
That afternoon we departed for the boys’ little league game, stopping on the way home to pick up pizza. Pulling into the driveway, I immediately noticed a transformation in the tulips. Their heads now drooped, the stems flopped over. With a sense of foreboding, I exited the car and closely inspected a bloom. It was covered with a chalky white film from stem to flower. Very dead. Horrified, I dashed from flower to flower in the front and back yards. They were all wilted. All dead.
“They’ve been chemically altered, killed,” my husband Jon announced ominously.
Killed? Why murder tulips? And who would commit such a heinous crime?
He stepped into the breezeway, tripping on a can of insect repellent as he went.
An empty can of OFF! He sternly faced both boys, four and six, said slowly and deliberately,
“Does anyone know (pause) what happened (longer pause) to your mother’s tulips?” There was a protracted, guilty silence.
“Well boys, Mom and I are hungry and we’re going to enjoy pizza in the dining room.”
“You,” he said to one,” may sit at the kitchen counter. And you,” he eyed the other, “may sit on the living room sofa.
“When someone decides to tells us what happened, you may join us at the dinner table.”
It was a dismal dinner as we contemplated the deceased tulips. Ten slow minutes ticked by, then the sound of tentative little footsteps approached. He peered sheepishly around the corner.
“M-E,” he spelled out.
“M-E what?” I said.
“Me did it.”
“Me did what?”
“Me sprayed the tulips with OFF!”
“Why?” I slowly whispered, my blood at a low boil.
“Because it was really fun to spray the can.”
Spring still comes with reflection on “what might have been.” Rather “what should have been.” The poison seeped deeply into the bulbs. Though the foliage still appears, they never bloomed again. We won’t soon forget the day the tulips died.
And him? He lived to see another sunrise. But he was poorer. We charged him by the stem, the sum total of all the birthday money he’d just gleefully stashed in his piggy bank. (The itemized bill included the can of OFF!)
Hysterical. Always funnier when it’s someone else’s kids!! 😉
Leslie / LittleGemsUSA.com says
Haha. That’s great. If it was me I probably would have sprayed them myself to keep the bugs off. If you want to bring blooms inside later you don’t want to bring bugs in too. But I gave up gardening years ago. Too much effort for little to no results and I didn’t even think of Off.
Aunt pinkie says
Oh, dear -what a story! Interesting to learn the power of ” off”!and I assume the bulbs were never replaced! As Bob was the gardener, I can only imagine the time it would have taken to do a major ‘replant’!
Made me laugh!! Reminds me of the spring over 40 years ago when David and I were living in California and our kids were 5 and 3. They were playing with the neighbor children next door and before long a very upset mom arrived at my door with all the kids in tow. It seems she had a prize miniature lime tree whose fruit was just too tempting to ignore, and my kids had stripped it clean in their pure delight in picking. What could be done to make retribution for this devastating though innocent crime? At this point I can’t remember whether I baked and took them a pie or what, but I do know that my two kids are still excellent pickers and we have had many a raspberry or blueberry pie or strawberry shortcake because of their expertise and joy in the picking!
Okay, so here’s a confession….Tell “M-E” that I was way older than him when, not thinking about the shrub that lay below my stream of wasp spray, I went after a mean bee with my can of repellant and sprayed with fury. Forever after there was a dead spot on a portion of that shrub and I had to look at it until it was removed from the ground. Felt kinda dumb, yes I did.
Ginger Worrell says
So sad, too bad……that’s the way I felt when Robbie was just a little guy about five years old because we had only been in Easley about two years at the time. Guess what he did Allie…..this is over 20 years ago now. Robbie, in his little boy mode of going to be Mommy’s helper, found a spray bottle full of ROUND-UP and gleefully sprayed it all over the pretty green grass beside the driveway. There has never been a single blade of grass to reappear again in that area. We are still a sea of mud in our front yard by the front door and neither would new grass seed take root there. I’ve always been thankful that the ROUND-UP did not kill the beautiful oak tree that graces our front yard in the middle of Robbie’s good deed for Mama that day. Oh well, so sad, too bad I always say. Always makes for a good story just like your pretty red tulips that never came back either!! 🙂
I hate to bring a negative note to this story-telling, but Round-up and other such weed killers are bad chemicals to have around. Better to bend over and pull every weed like my mother did who lived to 95. My husband is now fighting nonHodgekins lymphoma (aka known as Farmers’s Disease), which may have been caused by just such toxic chemicals.
Linda Jenkins says
I feel bad for that little boy. And I feel sad that the tulips will never bloom as they did then. However, I believe you and Jon taught him a very important lesson. There are consequences to all our actions, even when those actions appear to be so much fun.
James Oliver says
funny and sad. Enjoy everything you write.