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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.

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.

Fields of colour with Mt. Hood in the background

There is one weekend left of the Tulip Festival, so don’t miss it!

Sadly, sadly, our camera batteries died almost immediately. We were about a dozen photos into our morning when it shut down. After the tulips, we were going to stop and take photos of the galloping buffalo we saw along Highway 211. But without a camera, we skipped those plans. No seriously, a buffalo galloping along the highway. Awesome.

yellow hill

In any case, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm hosts an annual Tulip Festival out in Woodburn, Oregon, only 45 minutes from Portland. The tulip and daffodil farm includes over 40 acres, and a full 4 acres of that are landscaped with jaw-dropping color. This year is an extra-big celebration because it’s the 25th anniversary of the festival. The owners have been growing tulips there since 1974, so you can imagine they know what they’re doing!

It was a gorgeous day and we got an early start. Avoided all the crowds without even knowing there were going to be crowds. We parked right next to acres of tulips, and were soon wandering through the flowers. Daffodils were past season, but the tulips are still peaking. And stunning.

Galoshes and mud puddles

For whatever unexplained reason it is, people tend to flock together. So the three of us simply walked past clusters of visitors and got to parts of the fields that held only a few men with gigantic lenses on their cameras, and other folks like us who don’t need to be shoulder-to-shoulder. Mark overcame the lack of manliness he assumed was involved in tulip-gazing. He didn’t rise to the level of my daughter and me, gasping every 2.4 minutes. “Oh look!”

Eventually we crossed a field of rye grass in the direction of circus tent tops we could see from the tulip fields. There was fair food and lots to drink no matter your tastes. I am the only alcohol drinker of the family, so my man and my girl humored me while I did wine tasting for awhile. Fell in love with Maréchal Foch (say Marshall Foosh) from Vitis Ridge in Willamette Valley. Haven’t even heard of it before and it was so delish I had to bring home a bottle. I was very impressed with Methven wines, and rather than make a decision there at the festival, made mental plans to visit the winery in Dayton, Or.

My daughter and me

My daughter and me

We wandered past a tent of exotic rescue birds. Met Bodie first of all, who is a healthy and happy green wing macaw who doesn’t mind standing on the shoulders of a stranger. My girl went into the tent and had more macaws and a cockatoo walk on her.

Next we went to the climbing wall, where for $3 of tickets she could climb it three times, choosing her spot each time. She made it to the top of course. We bought Mother’s Day gifts and browsed beautiful things we didn’t need. We ate elephant ears, chicken kabobs with rice, corn dogs, and all manner of fair food. We all got sunburns, but found plenty of shady seating when we wanted it.

Hazelnut grove at far end of tulip field

I was too tired to even consider buying bulbs or flowers on our way out, but I have the catalog and will certainly find a way to acquire some of the amazing beauty from the fields. My daughter and I have our eye on a purple checkered flower. Checkered!

Here’s an inside tip: arrive early. When we left at 1:30pm, we passed cars lined up to get in. They were bumper to bumper from the gates of the tulip farm and along the 2 miles to highway 211/214. They sat in line for another 4 miles of highway and through the city of Woodburn, down the ramp from I-5, and a couple of miles along I-5. Moral of the story= arrive early. Gates open at 9am. We got there about 10:15 am and didn’t have to wait in traffic at all.

(Thanks Stephanie for blogging about tulips and providing the inspiration for our family outing!)

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