While attending a marriage seminar on communication, Tom and his wife Peg listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He asked Tom, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?" Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?" The rest of the story is not pleasant. —Author unknown

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The joy of tiptoeing through the tulips

The girl was there, in a glorious tulip field by a road in the Netherlands. So was I, as a guest of the International Bulb Centre. It was—literally—a snap decision to make this image.

Six of us were on our way to Keukenhof, where 7 million bulbs are planted every year in spectacular designs (including more than 4.5 million tulips in 1000 different varieties). I have no idea where, exactly, we were. The thing that stunned me, an Iowa farm girl, is that this is Holland’s version of our corn fields. It’s a crop. But it’s a crop that delights.

It was about 12:30 p.m. or so when our minibus rumbled by the field. The sight of these ‘Merry Christmas’ tulips brought it to a screeching halt. We weren’t the only ones. Attracted like bees to these glowing red beacons, people tumbled out of their cars, almost desperate to be in the midst of such splendor.

As we tore ourselves away after a half hour frolicking in this field of dreams, I spotted this little girl posing for her family. I extended my point-and-shoot Canon G10′s zoom lens as far as it would go, squeezed off a couple of frames, and left in a haze of happiness.

That picture not only reminds me of this perfect moment, it symbolizes what gardening is all about: joy.

Plant some bulbs this fall: daffodils if you have deer, tulips if you don’t. And a host of others. They’ll always bring a smile to your face.

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