Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A PORTENT OF BETTER DAYS AHEAD


Feeling disgruntled and depressed over the recent foul weather (cold temperatures and high winds), I happened to wander out in the back yard to a tool shed I have there. All my tools sat idle and forlorn since I am strictly a warm weather gardner who refuses to work in the cold or in foul weather. As I locked the tool shed door and turned to leave I happened to look behind the shed and what caught my eye was a patch of yellow tulips, and off to one side, some red ones. It occurred to me that as I was whining about the foul weather, these bulb were pushing their way up through the dirt. Cold, unfertilized, no water, and with very little sunshine, these bulbs were determined to live and bring their brand of beauty into the world.

It cheered me immensely and I recalled the history of tulips: originating in the steppes of the Persian empire, a cold and hostile land, they were brought to Europe and were the subjects of one of the wildest financial speculative manipulations known. Prices for even a single tulip bulb soared to as high as 4,200 florins, that is $57,279 in today's dollars. They were traded and treated as a sort of super-currency. Then, in February 1637 the bubble burst, and the effect on the European economy, particularly in Holland, was similar to what happened currently with the failure of so many banks and brokerage houses, and the stock market crash. The fortunes men made from the tulips evaporated, but the tulips were still there each year, and every spring they continue to push their way up through the dirt and forecast the coming of summer, better weather and hope.

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