Dear Tulip Thief

April 27, 2008

For a few weeks, we watched the dozen green tulip buds grow taller and fatten. They cloaked themselves in a hint of red. I planted them three years ago in a small corner garden at the intersection where we live in Northeast Portland.

The tulips were on the verge of opening, an event we and the many people who stroll past every day anticipate. Then nine of them were gone, snipped overnight. And it’s not the first time flowers or plants have been stolen from our yard. Two years ago I planted a variegated Jacob’s ladder next to our front steps. A few days later I noticed an empty hole.

I had to do something about the tulips, take some action in a futile, maddening situation, something beyond bitching and moaning. So I typed a letter to the thief, printed it out, and had it laminated. But by the time I got around to erecting it over the clipped tulip stumps, an adjacent batch of orange and gold tulips bloomed. I realized the sign wouldn’t make sense next to a glorious display of spring. So I’ll save it for next year and the inevitable return of greed. But here’s what I wrote:

Dear Tulip Thief:

You’ve deprived the neighborhood of beautiful flowers. You’ve also deprived our little boy of his spring-time joy: waiting for them to bloom.

If there’s justice in the universe, one day you’ll awake naked and trapped in blackberry bushes stretching to the horizon. For a fig lieaf you’ll clutch withered tulips.

As your panic mounts, you’ll suddenly realize why you’re there.

And our tulips will return in full bloom.