I was desperate for something to help me re-direct my sour mood yesterday morning. I was in a super bad mood that had carried over from the night before and I felt grouchy the moment I woke up. I could tell it was “time to pull out the big guns” as they say. I needed to get out of the house and put myself directly into a situation where my natural joy of life would take over and squash those dark feelings.
It’s the season for the annual Tulip Festival at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon. I went there once before in 2010, and found the huge fields of tulips irresistible then, and suspected they might be just the thing I needed.
I popped my head into my teenager’s bedroom, recently converted into a fort to hold several other teenagers on a sleepover. I woke her up to remind her that she had to leave for ballet in an hour, that I loved her, and that I was on my way out the door to go photograph tulips.
Rather than take I-5 to the Woodburn exit, I went directly south on I-205 to Oregon City, along a scenic section of the Willamette River, and south through some truly gorgeous fields and hills of trees toward Canby. I love that I can live in places where I am periodically startled to see how beautiful it is. The views became more lovely as I continued my heading, winding me into valleys and over ridges and past the most postcard-perfect little farms with Victorian style homes and white picket fences and sheep grazing among daffodils.
I reached the tulip farm in about an hour. The fee is $10 per vehicle, which was a little much for just me, but a good price considering one could bring in a station wagon full of kids and it would still be $10. The farm is dog friendly, so bring everybody when you come. Keep your dog on a leash to prevent tulip smashing and unwanted tangles with the many other dogs. I ignored all the circus tents and food and gifts for sale, and all the crazy festival hoo-haw going on beside the parking lot. Not. in. the. mood.
The tulips are planted in a different place this year than in 2010. Maybe they are moved every year. I was disappointed, because I liked having Mt. Hood and a hazelnut grove as the background to my tulip views. Just to be obstinate (remember I was in a really bad mood), I walked to the field I wanted the tulips to be in. There was only grass, and a cluster of antique wood-burning tractors.
I returned to the tulips and began clicking my camera at them. It’s cheating, to take photos there, because you can’t get a bad shot. Even if your composition is poor, the subject matter is good enough to make up for it. My biggest challenge was avoiding shots of people.
I was reminded of being in Japan, at the Iris Festival in Iwakuni, because there were many people surrounding flowers with cameras, most cameras much nicer than mine. They patiently dragged their huge tripods along with them. I find tripods cumbersome, but perhaps that reveals me to be an amateur. Me, I stepped carefully along the long narrow rows in my cowboy boots, and then squatted mere inches above the mud, and clicked, and looked at flowers and at the people and at the sun, and then scooted over a little and clicked some more.
While there, the clouds thickened and the cold wind which had been there all along, became even more wicked. My grumpiness threatened to pull me down some more, but I opened my heart as much as I could. This little boy came bouncing past me, shouting with glee, “This is so amazing! This is my favourite place, ever! Come on, you can only step on the humps.” and he hopped along the edge of the tulip field, leaping from dirt mound to dirt mound. His enthusiasm caught like a virus, and a few people remained chuckling for minutes after the boy had gone.
Drops of rain touched me here and there, and the wind pressed inside the seams of my jacket. My fingers were frozen and it was time to go. How glad I was for my early start. The photo of the church was the first one I took today: look at all that blue!
Leaving the parking lot, creeping slowly to avoid mortally wounding a child or a dog, I heard a killdeer shrieking and was surprised to see her in the parking lot and not budging from her spot. I parked again and came back for a look. The Tulip Farm people had blocked two parking spots with cones, because the killdeer had made her nest right smack in the middle of a painted parking line. She stayed on her nest while I invaded her privacy, and then when I stood up to leave, it startled her, and she jumped up and came toward me.