Friday's sunshine lit my face leaving a warm tinge across my cheeks. I tossed my shawl across the back seat so the light could fall across my shoulders as we drove. We headed north into a beautiful spring day of blue skies, eager to reach the tulip fields in Skagit County. These fields are grown only for the bulbs which will be sold. One day they will be blooming in gardens across the country. We have been visiting these tulip fields for years, even before we married. It is a special occasion for us when we make this pilgrimage north.
This is the first year we could not have our annual picnic of delicious Dungeness crab sandwiches. The crabmeat is shredded across bread which has been drizzled with some kind of yummy relish spread. Plain, simple, and delicious. Reidel's, where we bought these sandwiches, has been torn down; the right of eminent domain toppled a store where we shopped every time we were in the valley. Yes, even Skagit county is growing. Busy lives demand wider highways for quicker access. Visitors to the tulip and art festivals in the area and those headed to Anacortes which sits west of Burlington on the water probably created traffic jams. Now we are unable to find the saltwater taffy, garden whirl-a-gigs, windchimes, homemade Chow-Chow, pepper jellies, and BBQ sauces. They are all GONE. Berry preserves, mustards, marinades, and salad dressings that once lined the shelves along the back of the shop can't be found in local stores. We must order Chow-Chow from Dillard, Georgia and pay for shipping. We had said Goodbye and were prepared for this void since we learned about the plan last year after a whale watching trip to Anacortes, but we were sad to see the stark asphalt now storing only highway equipment instead of hosting our favorite general store.
Even though it seems each year that there are less tulip fields than we once found in La Conner, we are always so stunned by the vivid colors which await us that volume seems insignificant. Snow covered Cascades rise in the background, and fields of tulips and daffodils dance lightly in the currents of air which move into the valley from the Sound. Flower pickers create bouquets for tourists to purchase at small stands near the fields. Five dolllars will buy you a rainbow. Photographers stroll along the paths, enthralled like we are with the colors and shapes. The way sections of color move into another is like waves in the ocean becoming one body of water. A wide pathway seems headed straight into the northern Cascades. Country barns decorate the distant fields, and large stands of trees and grassy meadows surround the purples, pinks, reds, and yellows. It is surreal. It focuses you on the magical gifts of nature. It compels you to come back each year.
Along the way we found a public garden across from one of the tulip fields and decided to explore. We were alone in the garden. In the stillness of the late afternoon we found a very old cherry tree with withered, tangled arms still pink with blossoms. Beyond it other trees leaned in odd angles to the ground, beautiful in their asymmetry. A wooden bench invited meditation and silent appreciation. Early blooming rhododendrons, tulips and daffodils were scattered about the garden. Pure serenity, a quiet treasure, this perfect gift of nature brought another perspective to the day's journey.
Springtime lights the country in magnificent colors, but the Pacific Northwest is remarkably radiant at the moment, and we love to watch her glow! Consider a visit and see for yourself.
Photographs were taken in La Conner, Washington
in the Skagit Valley region of the state.