Spring in the Pacific Northwest begins with a whimper. The gradual shift to slightly warmer temperatures with a continuation of grey skies, rain, and chilly winds is barely noticeable most years. But when the tulips begin to bloom, we know blue skies and sunshine are just around the corner.
It’s become our custom over the last several years to travel north to visit the tulip fields of Skagit Valley. This year we changed things up and made the journey south to Woodburn, Oregon and the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.
The three-hour drive was uneventful. Traffic was not especially heavy, and it rained most of the way. We only made a few stops en route to stretch our legs and soon found ourselves in Woodburn. We grabbed a bite to eat and checked in to our hotel. The rain was steady now, so we made the decision to settle in for the evening and hit the fields the next morning when there was a break in the showers.
We woke to still grey but shower-free skies. Parking was plentiful as it was still early, and the threat of poor weather kept visitors away. We paid our entrance fee, perused the map, grabbed our rain jackets and began the muddy trudge to the flowers. We stopped outside the gift shop, where smaller plantings of unusual tulip varieties and daffodils were on display, and took a few photos. A quaint setup with a truck sported the farm logo, and an oversized pair of wooden shoes served as a photo backdrop.
Booths, games, and activities for children were just beyond the gift shop, and children got their faces painted and enjoyed treats. Vendors sold bulbs, food and other items. A false storefront was erected to illustrate how wooden shoes are artfully hand carved. Large trucks with covered backs and hay bales transported families to and from the fields. Wagons in the shapes of cows allowed parents to tow their little ones along as they all enjoyed the trek to the blossoms.
The tulip fields lay before us as a multi-hued, brightly striped tapestry.
At one end, giant kites danced on a steady breeze.
As we got closer to the blossoms, the individual flowers appeared as bright spots on a background of green.
Closer still, and the distinct coloration of each flower revealed itself. Each variety of tulip boasted a specific pattern, yet each bloom was unique amongst all the others.
Rain droplets clung to petal and leaf as added adornment. Each grouping, row, and plant pulled our hungry eyes forward, as we greedily consumed this visual buffet.
We look forward to the celebration of the tulip bloom every year. The fields speak to the hard work put forth by loving hands. The layout of the rows, the transitions of color, and the pathways artfully laid out the work to be appreciated. The flowers speak to the wonder of nature.
While most of the tulips are selectively engineered by man, the flowers were here before us, already a marvel unto themselves. We have a love affair with this gift of springtime, and we look forward to keeping this tradition year after year.
Stacy & Brandon are transplants to Washington state who spend their free time exploring, hiking, and camping all across the glorious Pacific Northwest. They started Pacific North Wanderers in 2015 to share their adventures and inspire others to enjoy the outdoors.