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Fields of tulips at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregon.

Tulips as soul food, I mean. We didn’t actually eat any of them.

This week started out on a down note. It’s getting a little warmer, but it was raining day after day and even though I did go do some yardwork in the rain, it’s just not inspiring to pull weeds and rake in the rain. Then I lost one of my Hussies on Monday, probably to a raccoon. I found her dead inside the chicken house and had to dispose of her body.

Tara said they would be coming to visit me on their one day off from work. I found out later that they were hoping to cheer me up. Awww. What a good kid.

Tara showed up late Tuesday night, after closing up at work where they live in Corvallis. We hugged and then told each other good night. Wednesday morning the sun came out! Tara requested Mom’s Best Baking Powder Biscuits in the World, and while we ate we decided to go to the tulip farm. I haven’t been there for years. Tara and their friends have tried multiple times in the last couple years, and keep showing up at the farm when it’s past tulip season or too early for tulips. In fact, Tara has already been there this year, but no tulips had bloomed yet.

Tara crouches carefully in a bare patch of dirt to get a close up photo without crushing any of the flowers.

At the top left, you can see a raised platform built for visitors to get a better look at the fields.

This is the view from the raised platform.

I needed the sunshine and bright colours to lighten my mood, and Tara needed to enjoy a rare day off from work and school, to simply play for awhile and not be responsible.

Our timing was good because it’s still within the main dates of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm‘s 35th annual Tulip Festival. Each year the tulips are grown in a different portion of the farm, to ensure soil health. Since Tara had recently visited, they knew exactly where to go to find the tulips this year. In minutes of arrival, we were surrounded by tulips and eating them up.

My camera was hungry for all the colour too, and gulped it up out of proportion. I am a camera novice, so I don’t know what happened, but the colours in some of my photos are so saturated I’m afraid they’re going to start dripping.

So much colour. No editing here….just a lens gulping up colour.

A faded Mt. Hood in the distance behind the Hazelnut trees.

Tara and I had a lot of fun wandering through the fields of tulips and talking. We have a great relationship and even though we just spent a week together in Ireland, we already had lots of things to talk about again. I feel so fortunate to have this great kid who trusts me and shares with me. I asked T to take photos of me in the tulips because I realized in a whole week in Ireland, I had not asked them to take any photos of me. I’m the one always carrying the camera, so I need to remember to ask others to take my picture.

Me, warm enough to take off my sweater. Yay for sun!

Tara said, “Take off your sunglasses!”

Each field demonstrates tulips that are on sale from the farm’s flower catalog. Here is a popular choice for buyers: mixed tulip bulbs in a single bag.

Acres of blooming tulips.

I liked how these were all leaning toward the sun.

There is no picking area that I am aware of at this farm. The company sells bulbs from a catalog. Many people wander the fields in order to choose what to buy from the catalog.

At the back of the fields is an orchard of Hazelnut trees, one of Oregon’s most famous exports. It’s not yet hazelnut season, but the trees offer a nice backdrop to the tulips.

Hazelnut orchard at the back of the farm.

A tractor prepares a field nearby.

We were allowed to stand and look, but not to enter the orchard.

Also at the back of the fields, a lone man sat monitoring a couple of kites flying. He had a grey tiger shaped kite, and a giant purple shark kite. Tara said it looked like an animated character from a children’s movie, I can’t remember which one. I thought it looked ridiculous, and was irritated that I had to crop out an enormous purple cartoon whale shark from my photos.

….but I took one photo of it to show you what I mean.

The animated kite fit with the rest of the place though, which is entirely too corny for my taste. I refused to take any photos of the fake windmill, fake wooden shoe workshops, and all the carnival tents selling elephant ears and cotton candy. The place is set up mostly for kid entertainment, with rides and playgrounds and stuff that has nothing to do with tulips. I did like the game where kids place little rubber duckies into metal troughs and then rapidly pump water from old timey well pumps to flush the duckies to the other end of the trough and race each other. I do recall that when Tara was in middle school, we spent a lot more time in the carnival section though….so I should stop being so judgy.

The view as we headed back to the carnival section to find some food and wine.

One of the photos I took was of a bright red tulip shining her best self in a field of undisciplined yellow tulips bending every which way. I made a meme out of it.

A chipmunk feeding on the seeds I leave about for them.

Life springs forth in Spring. It’s irresistible.

I have chosen my home office location well, and have the welcome distractions of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks outside my window. This time of year I am also finding delight in Springtime blossoms.

Daffodil or narcissus?

Pacific Bleeding Heart.

I love the deep purple of the vinca.

Tulips live a short life but give such pleasure during that time. I don’t think there is such a thing as too many tulips.

Friday (yesterday) I worked a typical 10-hour workday (I work a compressed schedule), and the weather was spectacular! It reached 69 degrees here, and for much of the day there was not a cloud in the sky. I work at home most days, including yesterday, and racked my brain all day long for reasons to leave my desk and go outside. I really wanted to develop some kind of mild sickness that prevented me from working, but I couldn’t dredge up a sufficient illness. Sadly, I was well enough to stick it out all day long at my desk with my computer screens.

But I did grab my camera and run around during breaks and capture some of the blossoms in sunlight.

Oregon grape bursting with yellow flowers.

Narcissus along the driveway.

A closer shot of the narcissus.

Research shows me that all of the blossoms I call both narcissus and daffodil are under the category of narcissus. I grew up calling the flowers with a large trumpet daffodil. Those bloomed and passed already. The daffodils on my property are all a deep, sunshine yellow. Now I have new blossoms of white petals with yellow or orange trumpets that are very short. I call these narcissus.

I mentioned recently to fellow blogger Derrick J Knight that the deer ate my camellias over the winter. I included a photo below. Luckily they only ate the leaves off, and left the plant to try and recover. I see small buds of regeneration already, and I have learned the important lesson that some plants need to be covered in the winter. At my place, this includes camellias, azaleas, hydrangeas, honeysuckle, and hellebore. I believe all of them are still alive, but rather decimated. I will be a better steward from now on.

Volunteer grape hyacinths add colour along the path.

Pitiful camellia after the deer ate it this winter.

Peony looks very healthy.

This morning, chilly and wet, the scenes from the same window were still captivating, as I caught hummingbirds and a chipmunk going about their days, much less concerned about the rain than this fair-weather human.

In my last post I commented concern that sugar water would not be enough to provide a balanced diet for hummingbirds. So I looked it up and discovered that sugar water is a supplement to a hummingbird’s diet that includes small insects and spiders. Multiple organizations that profess to have a hummingbird’s best interests in mind assure me that the sugar water is a good thing for them. Just no food coloring.

Sugar-loving hummingbird, returned from her winter playground.

The chipmunk seems unconcerned that I loom at the window with an enormous lens pointed at her.

I did glance out the back window and spot another heron. I have poor eyesight, so I spotted only a great grey blur out in the grass. It is rather exciting to train the camera out there, focus, and see this enormous, elegant bird, on his way to eat some of my fish or frogs from the pond. They move quickly, and I am slow with the manual focus, so… I apologize that the image is blurry.

You may recall that I can never get a great shot of the Great Blue Herons who fish in my pond. This photo proves nothing has changed.

One of the pieces of my character is that a sense of beauty always gets through the static and fog of whatever else is going on. If I am consumed by a particular veteran’s case at work, if I am worried about my Tara making their way through the world  away from home at college, if I can’t make a reassuring plan for how to pay all the bills, if I remember that I am lonely, or that I miss my mother, or that refugees are suffering, or women still do not have their rights protected… no matter how powerful the dark thoughts, beauty pierces the cloud and makes me smile. How grateful I am to be human and to be able to comprehend beauty.

Fields of colors at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Fields of colors at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

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.

Elliot Prairie Community Church

Elliot Prairie Community Church

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.

Antique tractors at the far end of the farm. You can see the fallow fields and hazelnut grove in the background.

Antique tractors at the far end of the farm. You can see the fallow fields and hazelnut grove in the background.

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.DSC_1042

DSC_1040The 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.DSC_1046

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.DSC_1076DSC_1062DSC_1057

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.

I loved the yellow boots!

I loved the yellow boots!

This flower was standing tall, so I wanted to really set her off!

This flower was standing tall, so I wanted to really set her off!

Another tulip standing out from the crowd that I just had to capture.

Another tulip standing out from the crowd that I just had to capture.

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!

see her eggs?

see her eggs?

sitting on her nest

sitting on her nest

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.

These were my absolute favourites of the day. All the tulips in this row were crazy with lots of green.

These were my absolute favourites of the day. All the tulips in this row were crazy with lots of green.

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