Tip Toe Through the Tulips

“I feel like a little girl,” my mom smiled as she walked down a dirt path flanked by rows and rows of budding tulips. She knelt down to gently pull a long stem from the ground, its lacy petals so delicate.

Tiny Tim is singing and strumming his ukulele in my head and I hum to myself.

Tip-toe through the window
By the window, that is where I’ll be
Come tip-toe through the tulips with me

Spring was steady rain. Day after day, March through April, grey clouds and downpours were on a constant repeat. Even the day we visited Wicked Tulips in Johnston, Rhode Island was overcast with cold sprinkles. But the pastel blooms made the five acres of 600,000 tulips a real life 3D Monet. Pinks, purples, fiery oranges, daffodil yellows, and white blooms made you want to skip, not tip toe through the tulips.

I had heard about this little piece of Holland in New England a year ago and signed up to receive the Wicked Tulips’ “Bloom Report” where the husband and wife farmers Jeroen and Keriann Koeman provide email updates on the tulips progress and when their limited tickets go on sale for their short season.

The land is leased from the state and abuts Snake Den State Park. Jeroen is from Holland and hails from a long lineage of tulip farmers. He and Keriann run the farm, sell bulbs year-round and advocate against using pesticides in the flower industry.

The first week was prime time to visit Wicked Tulips. I love tulips when they are still closed and watching each buds’ evolution as they slowly open and magically turn to follow the light of the sun throughout the day.

Swarms of people trudged through the muddy parking lot, armed with empty baskets. Tulip picking was like the parting of the Red Sea, the running of the bulls, lemmings scrambling into the ocean, salmon swimming upstream – only it was a mob of women on their annual pilgrimage to pick tulips. For a $15 ticket you can pick ten free tulips and then a $1 per stem.

This was better than any kind of picking I had experienced before. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, pumpkins, even wandering around a Christmas tree farm paled in comparison to a late morning stroll at Wicked Tulips in early May. Carefully tugging at the bottom of each stem and creating a bountiful bouquet, breathing in the fresh fragrance of spring, the earthy mud, the mossy greens was heaven on earth.

A visit to Wicked Tulips was a welcome to better weather to come. Tulip picking and photographing and simply admiring a special spring day only lasted for a few hours, but this moment and experience I can recall and reflect upon in the winter when there is no signs of life, color and warmth. I will hum along with Tiny Tim …

Knee deep in flowers we’ll stray
We’ll keep the showers away

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