A photographic journey of discovery.
It's tulip season in the beautiful Skagit Valley and tulip mania is in full swing. Last weekend our little town was overwhelmed by tourists, as were all the farm roads that go past tulip fields. The sun was out and the tulips worked their magic. Great for local businesses, and tolerable for local residents only if you're prepared to stay home.
Signs that tulip mania has hit included long lines out the doors of local restaurants and this entry from our weekly newspaper police blotter:
4/18, 6:25 p.m.: Tulip thieving -- Somebody stole two clay pots containing tulips from a business on South First Street in La Conner.
Shocked? Tulip thieves no longer shock me. I once witnessed a woman get out of her car and cut down tulips right in front of Rexville Grocery! When confronted by Stuart Welch, the business owner, she looked dumbfounded and said "Oh, I didn't think they belonged to anyone."
Tulips make people crazy, apparently, and they have been doing so for centuries.
Here are a few shots I grabbed from Tulip Town the other day. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but personally, I'd change that sign to read:
Caution: Tulips apparently impact one's ability to read and make people do very silly things...
Last night the wind howled, the rain poured, and the frogs sang a chorus as we fell asleep. This morning we awoke to another cloudy, drippy day. And then, despite all predictions, as the day wore on, the clouds rolled away to reveal a sparkling blue sky. People came out of their houses and basked in the sunshine. I took the opportunity to wander around the neighborhood with my camera.
There were other critters about, like my friend Chris's cat Sancho, who thought it made perfect sense to rub against my leg while I was crouched down trying to get a close-up of some primroses. I indulged him and stopped shooting to pet him until his attention was diverted by the barking of a neighbor's dog.
I stopped by a house some friends are fixing up and found this lovely camelia blooming in the yard. And then I made my way home, where I spent the afternoon trying to capture the mood. Although the sun was out, there were some soft clouds and a gentle breeze.
I just got the hummingbird feeders out this week and they were already clucking at me whenever I entered their feeding space. There was a quiet hum throughout the neighborhood - the distant sound of lawn mowers, the quiet conversation of walkers passing by. Cyclists spinning past the other side of the fence. Everyone was active, happy, taking advantage of this fleeting break from the rain.
As it cooled off I came inside to do a quick edit pass.
My husband took at look at the last photo on this page and exclaimed, "Wow, I really like that background! Where did you get that?"
I laughed so hard I almost choked.
He meant, of course, the blue sky. That's how long it's been. No foolin'.
I admit it, I am endlessly fascinated by plum and cherry blossoms. Since the cherry blossoms aren't quite blooming yet, here's a bouquet from this week's selection of plum blossom images. ( have added all of these to the Cherry and Plum Blossoms folder.)
Conveniently, there is a plum tree across the street from my house. I watch it morning, noon and night and sneak in some shots whenever it looks interesting. These are all images shot at different times of the day.
Although it may look later, this first shot is an early morning shot. Someone once said to me, "I've never seen anyone shoot the backside of a flower. That's different." Is it? I just thought it was an interesting angle. I guess most people think you have to shoot a flower straight on to capture its essence.
The next image is a sunset shot. I loved how the late light was warming those red stems. I'm okay sacrificing a little sharpness for this because of the colors.
The third image is also early morning, but shooting from in front, not behind, obviously.
Finally, the last image was shot in full, bright, middle-of the day light. What a difference that makes! So clear and bright, with its upright position, reaching for those rays. I know just how it feels - at last, sun!
Some days are better than others in the hunt for a good image. Yesterday, for example, I half-heartedly went out to grab some snapshots of the daffodil fields, primarily to let fellow photographers who are not in the area know what the blooms currently look like. I only had a few minutes and the light was really harsh. The fields weren't at their peak and, to be honest, I wasn't that enthused. Luckily, while I was by the side of the road shooting I looked up to see an adult tricycle peddling my way. It was a friend I'll call "Farm Girl." Farm Girl is funny and smart and sweet and knowledgeable about farming.
As we chatted by the side of the road about the follies of tourists coming to our area this time of year she told me a story about a couple she saw one year. Apparently they were hell bent on getting photos of the woman, who was, by the way, wearing a tutu, running through the iris fields. They were so intent, or so ill informed, they did not even notice the sprayer who was just finishing up his application of pesticides on the fields. Yes, tutu woman ran out into the freshly - sprayed fields. Farm Girl yelled at her to get out of the field. She pointed to the pesticide applicant - who was wearing full body protection from the pesticides. Tutu woman took a minute to get the implications, but she did, finally, leave the field of blooms. Fields of flowers seem to make people stupid.
Which leads me to this morning. When I left the house the sky was blue and crisp. I just wanted a few good shots, and I wanted to see if the swans I spotted yesterday were in the same spot this morning. (They were.)
I should have just gone back when I noticed the clouds rolling in. Instead, I drove over to where I had spotted the swans. I don't have a long lens, so I really can't get a good shot, but I thought I'd look through the lens anyway. As I pulled over I spotted a curious little fellow looking at me.
He was right next to my car and wasn't moving very much. Just watching me. A little unusual, but I thought it a nice opportunity to get a picture.
When I got out of the car and started to walk across the street to the daffodil field, I realized what was going on. I was at the scene of a family disaster. There were two large birds dead in the middle of the road. One was unrecognizable, but the other could have been peacefully sleeping.
There was another, smaller bird, dead on the side of the road.
Then, the little guy who had been eyeing me started to walk. It was then I saw that his wing was wounded and he could not fly. I tried to catch him, but he was too fast. Sadly, I had to let him be.
I realize this is just Nature and I should let things take their course, but I have a hard time understanding how three birds could have been hit by a car or truck on this deserted farm road. Someone was driving really fast - or they were distracted by the daffodil fields. Fields of flowers make people stupid.
After that, I decided I would rather work in my garden today than take any more pictures.
I try to shoot images without expectation because I know that every time I shoot something I am still learning. It took years to become comfortable with that notion. I fail a lot. In fact, I'm surprised every single time someone tells me they like a photo I took. Really. Surprised. I like posting new photos on my Facebook page, even when I think they're a failure, because I want to see how other people see them.
Lately I haven't had much opportunity to take photos. We've had so much rain that I find myself sneaking in five minutes here and there when there's a break in the clouds. I'm not particularly happy with anything I've gotten lately, but I try to just keep doing it because it makes me feel like I'm making some progress, even when the results are less than stellar.
A friend pointed me to this TED talk today, just as I was looking through the images I shot yesterday and debating whether or not to bother posting any. The timing could not have been better.
I had already seen her talk on vulnerability, which is a must-see for anyone who is trying to express their own creativity, but I rewatched it to remind myself of her message:
In the interest of allowing myself to be vulnerable, here are some images I shot yesterday. I think the clematis on the left is boring. The crocus in the middle is okay to me, but I see what I could have done better. The tiny daffodils on the right are just not good. I just couldn't find a way to capture their "springiness." Where do you allow yourself to be vulnerable?