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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.

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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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