If this were 1636, I would be a fabulously wealthy woman: My garden is awash in the wild colors of the early blooming tulips. Bright hues of red, yellow, pink and purple are clamoring for attention. Splashes of magenta can be seen in between the green growth of the perennial beds. The shyer soft peach and white modestly glow above their tall stems. The colors, after the long North Idaho winter, are intoxicating and they bring vibrancy and cheerfulness to the vernal equinox. I am crazy for tulips!
Originally, the tulip was a wildflower found in Central Asia, and grew to prominence in Turkey in the 15th century. Although strictly regulated by the Ottoman Empire, bulbs were easy to transport,and migrated to Western Europe and the Netherlands via commercial traders. Elegant and unusual, the tulip developed many crazy fans, willing to pay great sums for its’ unique beauty.
Tulip Mania refers to the Dutch phenomenon occurring over a short period of time, beginning around 1634 and ending in 1637. Although business records from the time are somewhat scarce, it appears that the Dutch Parliament enacted legislation, written and supported by the independent Flower Guild, allowing tulip contracts (not actual tulips, mind you) to be sold for a fraction of the real cost. And the race was on for merchants and citizens alike…think sub-prime mortgage craze and you have a simplistic, but fairly accurate understanding of what followed. Contracts were purchased and resold many times over, with prices wildly inflating until the outrageous prices caused an unceremonious collapse of the tulip market in the spring of 1637. In fairness, it is important to note that the collapse could also have been caused by a concurrent outbreak of the bubonic plague, and not just market shenanigans. The plague could have been a serious party foul for the financial festivities.
Historical tulip mania and threats of the plague aside, being aware of legislative actions, at the federal and state level as well as ordinances in our local communities, is important to the sustainable lifestyle. Contacting legislators and local leadership about issues of importance is as vital to green living as composting and recycling.
But, it is not 1636… It is a beautiful spring morning, 2012 and the sun is shining gloriously. The tulips are waving gently in the soft morning breeze and the hummingbirds are beginning their breakfast flights. I am going to take my cup of coffee out to the garden and revel in my riches. I am a blessed and wealthy woman.
Have you discovered an ordinance or code in your local community that could impact your green lifestyle? Have you considered what you might do or who you might contact in that situation?
Written by Kathy, Proprietor of Dustbin Handmade Cards
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