The Essential Truth of Tulips
Last spring I had a dinner party and a friend brought me a gorgeous bouquet of red tulips. After everyone left I put them on the kitchen counter so I could look at them while I cleaned up. When I finished, I turned off all the lights except for the one above the tulips. Under the light of the overhead bulb they appeared to float like Chinese lanterns against a black backdrop. I was inspired by this stunning image and ran to get my camera. I continued to take photographs every night until only scattered petals remained.
When I first saw the tulips they were elegant but staid beauties with their waxy cups primly crossed against their hearts. As the petals opened their appearance changed and they evolved into exotic, sensual blossoms. They were no longer uniform in size and colour and as their stems continued to grow some got taller and others swooped down in long graceful arcs.
Over time the petals turned inside out, flaring round their stems like red satin skirts, reminding me of drag queens parading their sexuality with provocative abandon. Eventually the flowers began to wither and droop, the petals leaning on their stems as if resting from a long journey. Then one by one the petals dropped. The cycle was complete.
Photographing the tulips’ transformations I was reminded that there is a natural process of aging, with each stage exhibiting its own unique beauty – a process that should be valued not feared.
As the last petals clung to their stems with proud defiance the tulips seemed to cry out, “I am beautiful – celebrate my life”. And so, I did.