Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It is springtime here, and my computer desktop is bright with yellow tulips photographed from ground level.

The glowing tulips reach up on slender stalks toward the sunny blue sky as if stretching on tiptoe toward the source of all light.

My eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful flower at the top of each stem, almost ignoring anything else. The stems are inconspicuous and seem almost incidental in comparison to the beauty of the yellow tulip cups overflowing with sunshine.

For some reason I asked: Which of us, given the choice of being the flower or the stem, would not spontaneously choose to be the flower?

Then I thought, each tulip blossom depends on its stem to convey nourishment up from beneath the soil, and the homely stem depends in turn on the unseen parts hidden in the dark earth.

We might choose to be the tulip blossom, but the blossom could not live without the stem, while the plant could live without the blossom.


  1. That is a beautiful picture.

  2. That's true, blossom could not live without the stem, however, the contribution of the stem could be minimum without the blossom.

    I was so happy to see this post. This picture is on my computer screen saver. Tulip is my favourite flower and my dream is to plant colorful tulips in my garden.

  3. Hi Fleming!
    I have a little hard and busy time now, but I want only to look at your blog without writing.
    And when I noticed my tulips on your post I decided to say it to you! I like them on my desktop too.
    Warm regards to you!

  4. Hello, Fleming..

    I just read your post about spring flowers and I felt it as a sort of metaphor of life. Let me explain this better..

    I mean, if we could imagine a person as a flower, in this specific case, a tulip. and if we could imagine the blossom as being what people usually call their 'good' qualities or features, so the stem could be imagined as their 'shortcomings'.

    So, when you said "Which of us, given the choice of being the flower or the stem, would not spontaneously choose to be the flower?" so, like it happens to the flowers/stems case, people obviously would preffer the good qualities of the other persons.

    But if, just like the flowers are depending on the stems, couldn't it be that at least some of these bad (or not so good) things that insist to be part of ourselves are exactly what gives us the support and basis for our qualities usually considered as the good ones?

    I don't know if this is somehow pertinent or if it makes sense to you and your readers, but that is where your beautiful post drove me to.

    By the way, tulips are definitely beautiful flowers. Although I still stick with the simplicity of a daisy or a wild passion flower :)

  5. Yes, we impose our own values on Nature. I once encountered an argument which said it was only our projection to consider that the butterfly is the goal of the caterpillar. The caterpillar exists to eat, the butterfly to perpetuate its genes before it dies.

    Is extreme old age the goal of the child? Of course not, we say, at least in the Western tradition, where old age is considered burdensome to self and others. We think of man's prime consisting in the most active years of earning, child-rearing and so on.

  6. Thank you Fleming... today, I am feeling that my Mom has been the stem who allowed me to bloom above ...

  7. Thanks very much to you all for your comments. Pretty new picture, Pink Ginger.

    Joice, same tulips, different viewpoints, different metaphors. I like your metaphor of the blossoms being our good qualities and the stems being our less desirable but necessary qualities . . . if I'm paraphrasing you properly.

  8. Yves, I appreciate your sharing your insight and highlighting our common preconception that the butterfly is the goal of the caterpillar. We happen to prefer the butterfly to the caterpillar (the butterfly is prettier and doesn't eat our plants), and the butterfly comes later, and so we say that the caterpillar was just a "stage of development". I doubt that the caterpillar knows that.

    I suppose if old age produced a more beautiful and desirable person than before, we would call an old human the culmination which all earlier stages served . . . culmination instead of "deterioration".

    Then, of course, we have the popular metaphor that the human life is a kind of caterpillar stage, and that their deaths transform them into butterflies on another plane. I hope so.

  9. Ann, thanks for yet another good metaphor. I'm sure your mother is glad to know you feel that way.

    I had no idea that my tulip thoughts would inspire so many different thoughts in other people. I really happy about it.

  10. Stems and flowers.. neither would exist without the seed, and the seed would not exist without the flower .. and so goes this magnificent cycle.