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Monday, April 25, 2011

Tulip Festivals, Gender Roles, & Child Labor

Okay, call me a fool. At noon on the sunniest, warmest day of the year, I decided to take the kids up north to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This has become a yearly pilgrimage for my daughter and I--we look forward to it all year. I usually spring her from school midweek, and we enjoy the farm scenery and walk through the fields reveling in the purples, mauves, and pinks in relative calm.

This was not be the case on Saturday. We merged onto I-5 at 12:30 PM. 3 hours later, we exited onto Old Highway 99, just south of Mount Vernon. When we got to town, it was bumper to bumper traffic along the tulip route. Another hour, and we still were not in any way, shape or form tiptoeing through the tulips. As we stopped and started along a stretch of backroad, I let them out of the car to kick around in the plowed dirt and marvel over a ditch that my son immediately begged me to let him cross to the other side of. I consented. They ran along the cars until I realized it was potentially fatal (motorcycles zipping in and out of lanes). It was 63 degrees, but because it's been in the 30s/40s most of the month, it felt like a heatwave. Finally, I consulted a map and took a sharp left off the car-glutted road and hightailed it to a field with just two colors of tulips: red and purple. My daughter was a little let down (last year we went to a field that contained six or more varieties!), but at least we were out of the car.

My son reluctantly walked a little way, allowed me to snap a few photos of him, but when we got to the second field (this one was all red and yellow), he told me that boys don't walk in tulip fields, that if we had taken his best friend along, he wouldn't have wanted to hang out with him again for at least a month (why a month? did it take a month for the tulip shame and embarrassment to wear off?). Meanwhile, my daughter couldn't get enough of the sumptuous blooms; she cried when I told her we weren't going to Tulip Town because there wasn't a single parking spot, which anyway costs $5 and it's only open another hour.

A day ago my son begged me to polish his nails. Last night he was hugging his best friend, crying with him when it was time for the play date to end.

Now he is telling me boys don't walk among beautiful living things with big floppy red petals and the blackest of inner secrets.

I felt achy and couldn't shake a headache. I got a head rush if I moved too suddenly. I had spent four hours in a car to walk in a couple of tulip fields for less than an hour.

We got back in the car to join the long line of traffic back to Seattle. I rationalized that I hardly eat meat anymore, so what was a few wasted gallons of gasoline, but my cavalier attitude probably had more to do with carbon monoxide poisoning.

The only thing that was going to heal my pain was, of course, Dairy Delite. But to get to Dairy Delite we were going to have to head north on I-5 again. No way!

You guessed it: fries and sundaes/shakes for dinner at the evilest of evil: Dairy Queen. I felt so much better after, which is sick because I know that children pick those tomatoes that go into Heinz ketchup.

It is sinister.

And now it's raining again, so I know quite definitively that Saturday really was the one day to see the tulips.

Was it worth it? Yes, it was.


Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the amazing photos! Your kids are cute, cute, cute and the tulips are a delight. Sorry it was a rough trip to see such beauty.

Supervillainess said...

We're going up for my birthday this weekend - we'll probably have less traffic as it supposed to be brrr cold and rainy. Sigh sigh sigh.

At least your photos are pretty awesome! And there was sunshine. Proving the orb still exists in the sky.

Martha Silano said...

Thanks, Sandy. I am not sure if it had anything to do with the trip, but the next day my daughter woke with a 104 degree fever. Hells bells! Another week of juggling teaching obligations with playing Rat a Tat Cat and Penguin Math. :-)

Martha Silano said...

Have a blast up there, J9, but I would leave as early in the day as you possibly can. It's going to be super crowded, esp if it's nice weather this weekend.