My fourth springtime in Washington state, and this year I finally saw the tulips. I anticipated a day trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival as anxiously I would a vacation – a much-needed vacation. Happy as my disposition tends to be, I’ve found that working-life post-TAPIF leaves something to be desired. I need to be outside! Out of town! Out of body (ooh, groovy…) – as much as I look forward to the warming weather, the sunnier the days become, the more my limbs twitch, my mind wanders, my eyes go in and out of focus (mouth agape, I’m sure). And it is only going to get more difficult as summer approaches, unless…
This jaunt north to the Skagit Valley couldn’t have come at a better time – the second Sunday of the month was sunny, bright, and dry; the bloom map I had been checking for weeks indicated signs of life. And what life! Long I have been enamored of the greens that are so characteristic of the Pacific Northwest, but to see the valley alive with color was a spectacular sight, proving that all this rain is good for something!
And here I thought I would take a little pause for all to recognize and appreciate my self-restraint in the number of photos I decided to post…only forty or so!
After a stroll around Roozengaarde’s largest field, we stopped across the road at the show garden, which put on display its rarest tulips. Most surprising I found to be the names given to many of the tulips, which ranged from the fancy (“plaisir” or “baronesse”), to the suggestive (“sensual touch,” “blushing bride,” or “secret love”), to the not-really-so-vaguely-politically-incorrect (“white triumphator,” “white king,” or “white ideal” – any of the white ones, really). Some, like the “Fabio” pictured below, must have been named purely for comedic value; case in point: the “Fokker Fan-Fan” tulip.
What goes best with tulips? Why, more tulips! We tiptoed through another field, ablaze in reds and pinks and purples. I slipped further into Tulipomania, remembering an interesting story that my father shared with me from Charles Mackay’s “Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” – it’s definitely worth a read, as it explains the life and times (and mania!) of the tulip in the Netherlands. “Quis furor ô cives” it begins – “What madness, citizens!” To spend one’s fortune on a tulip bulb seems extreme, pretty as they are, but to spend one’s afternoon surrounded by blooms makes for an entirely lovely Sunday.
Embrace the madness! Come see the tulips before they are all gone for the season!