I am in love with my tulips. It was a pre-meditated emotion, although I never expected it to be so strong. Last fall I loaded up a new audio book on my iPod, dumped three hundred dried and ugly bulbs into a large bowl, stirred them, then stepped outside into the cold, windy October day. As the clouds spit occasional drops of rain at my neighborhood, I hacked at the chilled dirt around our house with an ancient trowel and carefully placed bulb after bulb into the loosened soil. This better be worth it, I thought as an icy drop of rain struck the back of my neck, followed immediately by a gust of wind.

Later, after my aching muscles healed and the last lines of the story I’d been listening to faded away, I began to forget which types of plants I’d so carefully buried in the fall-caked soil. I did not try to keep this information, but let it drift along on the same rivers of forgetfulness that have carried away far more important details — friends’ birthdays, state capitals, the proper spelling of hors d’ovouers. ( <– This is not it.)

All winter I eyed the patches of dirt, waiting for signs of stirring. A few days ago we finally had foliage. And today we have these:

I knew I had tulips, but I did not know they would so far surpass the ordinary varietals. They are flanked by grape hyacinths and other purple flowers whose name I’m certain I’ve never known. Other greenery has begun to emerge from the ground all around them. They will soon bear their own flowers, and I will be surprised all over again.

I do so love spring. Especially when I plant ahead for it.