Sunbonnet Sue is looking very cheery as a Dutch meisje (girl) tending her tulip fields. Her brightly colored dress vies with the tulips for the most beautiful. Tulips are my favorite flower — I love them closed, I love them when they’ve opened to their fullest. I love plain, solid colored, frilly petaled, brightly colored — all colors and all kinds. Tulips are symbols of perfect love and fame. Red tulips, just like red roses, mean “true love”. Pink tulips mean affection and caring (the killer “let’s just be friends”). Orange tulips mean desire and passion (the often misunderstood “let’s just get it on”). To me, though, tulips symbolize happiness and springtime.
Tulips are also a symbol of Holland (or the Netherlands). Tulips are not native to Holland; tulip bulbs were brought to Europe from the Ottoman Empire in mid-1500s. Tulip farming started up in late 1500s when the Flemish botanist, Charles de l’Ecluse, became a professor at the University of Leiden. There, he planted his collection of tulip bulbs which had been sent to him by Turkish royal donors. Tulip mania soon took over, and tulips soon became a status symbol/luxury item. Tulip merchants were highly competitive, and soon many varieties of tulips in vivid colors were available to attract customers. Tulip growers were even able to grow tulips that had lines and “flames” on the petals by infecting them with a tulip-specific virus.
When my husband and I visited Amsterdam for the first time, we only had a day to explore. On the top of my husband’s list to see was, of course, the Red Light District. He was most interested in seeing the prostitutes advertising themselves in the windows of small houses. We asked directions and took a long walk through the District. Unfortunately for my husband, either the ladies of the night were all busy or were all napping or something. Disappointed, we strolled around the canal areas, which are lovely, and enjoyed the street scene. We had an opportunity to spend a little more time in Amsterdam a few years later, and, yes, of course, we did the Red Light District crawl again. This time we got lucky and we saw female entertainers galore. We learned a few things (no, not what you’re thinking!): 1) We learned it is not okay to take pictures of the ladies. 2) We learned that there many other people, young, old, male, female, just as curious as we were, and 3) that if you stop to appreciate the architecture of this area, you will quite enjoy the quaint elegance and quirkiness of the 14th century cobble-stoned streets and architecture.
So I hope I’ve inspired you to applique, to embroider, to quilt, and to explore the things that catch your imagination too. I’m attaching a photo of tiger lilies growing at my sister’s house a few years ago. Just like tulips, tiger lilies are beautiful and special. So are you.
P.S. This is International Sunbonnet Sue number 11 already! I hope I can keep up this pace! Eleven down and XXX to go….