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When It's Time

Story ID:2977
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
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When It's Time
When It's Time
Leaves bounced over the grass, propelled by the wind. I knelt
in front of freshly tilled soil. A leaf slapped against my leg,
stuck for a moment, and fled with the next gust. Others followed - a
colorful march across the yard.

I created a hole in the soil with my trowel and reached into
the bag of bulbs at my side. I removed one, placed it in the hole,
tenderly covered it, and shuffled to the side. Grass stained my jeans
as I moved down the line - dig, plant, cover.

The bag was empty. The bulbs were planted. I showered the sweat
and dirt from my body, and sat on my deck. The weakening sun warmed
me, but the cool breeze and tumbling leaves reminded me winter
would soon follow.

The bulbs weren't sleeping. Their roots grew downward, drawing
nutrients from the soil. The cool earth triggered cells to produce
small leaves and flower buds under the ground, where they would
wait for the warmth of spring.


From my window, I watched the first snow of the year cover my
flower bed. The soil, still warm from the waning sun, melted the first
flakes, but was soon overcome. The snow built up.

A month later, the ground was solid - frozen. Winds whipped powdery
snow into piles. Barren trees creaked and clattered with each gust. I
threw a log on the fire, made a pot of tea, and waited.


The days grew longer, the air warmer. Snow melted and formed
puddles on the still frozen ground. At night, the surface of the
puddles froze, but the water beneath soaked into the soil, feeding
the bulbs. In the morning, there would be clear layers of ice
where the puddles were. It shattered like glass beneath my boots.

Spring came; the air warmed. I walked in the yard. Under my weight,
water squeezed from the soil and filled the tracks I left behind. On
the southern side of the house, close to the basement walls, grass
became green. In my flowerbed, shoots of green pushed through the
surface. In a few weeks, they grew taller, reaching for the sun. Buds
formed at their tips and burst into color. I smiled - new life.

A few weeks later, the flower pedals fell free and were carried
off by the wind. The leaves continued to grow tall and strong, making
food for new bulbs.

The weather cooled. The leaves dried, browned, and withered
away. Snow fell again. The new bulbs lie hidden under the soil.
They would have their moment of glory.

Nature takes care of the bulbs, like we take care of our children.
If they grow and bloom too early, they'd fail. They won't be
prepared for their environment. The cold would beat them.

Outside, the snow fell again. I threw a log on the fire and
trusted nature. The flowers would bloom again - when it's time.

Michael T. Smith