Spring is the season of the bulb. And the bulb is the right life for the city.
The bulb is tough and self-contained. It copes with cramped spaces. Flourishes in flower pots. A true apartment dweller, it hunches its shoulders and wraps up in its roots in tiny forcing vases.
It is obscenely ugly, hardly distinguishable from an old dog dropping. It can lie dormant in a drawer, in a refrigerator, in a dry clod of dirt - for months - and survive.
But place it in dirt or water and wait for the sun to stay out late and life bursts forth. Roots first, then flower. Gaudy. Sexy. Sweet. Suddenly one day in May in formerly shabby parks, tulips are throwing kisses by the thousands. Their petals pucker in every shade of lipstick - Ruby Red, Frosted Pink, Magnificent Mauve, Wicked Wine. And you forget about the gray days in February when the parks department put out rat poison, and you stepped over soggy corpses on your way to work for weeks.
Now everywhere pansies smirk. Daffodils nod. And in some strange twist, it seems that every tree in New York City is a species that blooms. Survival of the fabulous. Shops sell flowers on the sidewalks for $6 to $10 a scanty bunch, yet nobody picks the blossoms in the parks.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry is
Busting out like nobody's biz
And all along the BQE
Makes a pretty sight - and it's free.
More so than holidays does spring unite the world. Every yard is decorated in pink and white. Every windowsill blossoms. Even the poor have dandelions.
Spring costs nothing. It draws us out. Opens us up, lowly bulbs that we are. And makes us pucker.