On Saturday, along with pretty much everyone else in Oregon, I decided to go to the tulip fields. Ok this isn’t entirely accurate. For weeks now, I’ve been telling Beka about them. “We will go in two cars,” I tell her. “One for all the men and one for all the women. We’ll take a picnic! You won’t believe your eyes—a whole field of flowers!” I gesture broadly. “Purple! Pink! Yellow! White! Red!” She smiles but I can tell she doesn’t picture it.

After several weeks of her being sick, or me having plans, not to mention how SOPPING WET our “spring” has been, finally Saturday was the day. We had reduced the two cars to one, and invited the artist’s wife, who cancelled at the last minute. So on the first bright hot sunny weekend in a very long time, Ilsa and I and Beka and Hana drove off.

We got onto the freeway and parked. Did I mention that everyone in all of Portland had decided that nothing would be better than to spend their rare and beautiful sunny afternoon polluting the air and driving at $4/gallon? Apparently. Traffic was horrific. Eventually the freeway cleared out, but about 3 miles before our exit I thought there was another accident. As I drove on and on, past stopped car after stopped car, I realized that no, it was just that All! These! Cars! were exiting to go see the tulips.

I executed a fine move, cutting right in at the last moment and proving that yes, I did learn some mad skillz during all those years driving in Morocco and Mauritania. No one even honked. We joined the long line of cars driving through Woodburn, and eventually made it out of town, although not before I had to cut back in to a long line of cars I had cut. (It was an honest mistake! I thought I was in the right lane, although I did wonder why it was so empty)

As we neared the tulip fields, we passed fields edged with multi-coloured blooms. “WOW!” exclaimed Beka. “Oh that’s nothing; just wait,” I told her.

We wandered around and admired the flowers and ate our picnic lunch and posed and took about a million pictures, which I will spare you. Just a few then…



I have to admit that there are few things more beautiful than the western Oregon countryside on a sunny April day. The earth was clothed in vivid greens and deep chocolate browns, with splashes of pink, purple and white on trees and bushes; the sky was piled with clouds in grey and white and deep deep blue. Beka has been unhappy here, stuck day after day in a maze of culture shock, in a drab apartment under drab grey skies throughout the long winter, and she gasped in amazement at the colourful world I was driving her through. “I love this,” she said as we passed an old farm with ancient oaks and thick grass. “What is the name here?”

It was the day before Easter. I still had to boil and decorate eggs, make hot cross buns (the second batch), make pastry for the strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie we were planning to share with friends next day. When I dropped them off, it was after 6:00 and I didn’t even go in for tea, just got out and kissed them goodbye, and raced home to put my tulips in water (I bought a bunch) and tell everyone to fend for themselves for supper. (My kids love it when I do this.)  Ilsa decorated her hands and legs with henna in celebration. I had the brilliant idea of decorating eggs in henna patterns, but it didn’t work as planned, so we decorated our eggs with food colouring and crayons, like we always did overseas. They were beautiful, but I didn’t photograph them. You can’t always be photographing. Now most of them are eaten.