Friday, November 27, 2009

Swans and Tulips

We live about twenty minutes south of the famous Tulip Fields of Mt Vernon, Washington. Each spring we meander the back roads through the fields to feast our eyes on the slurpee colored rows. It's hard to be considerate, enjoy it, and take pictures without trampling the farmer's field of labor, love, and his hope for the harvest. The flowers aren't the 'fruit', the bulb is what he harvests.

The tulip fields are famous, drawing people from everywhere. There are tours, a festival, and art walks. The area comes alive.

The fields are stunning, but there is something I enjoy more. It happens when the ground is dull and brown. What is even better than the fanfare is not only quiet, but happens without much of an audience to enjoy it or notice. No signs, no advertising for a magical event.

I don't know the science of it, can't tell you the exact days of the year, or tell you which field to go to. It has been serendipity or lagniappe each time. Lagniappe is a beneficent kind of extra, an extra you weren't expecting, but immensely glad to have.

We must be on the migration trail for white swans. They must like daffodil and tulip leftovers? They land to rest or feed on something in the bare soil, completely covering a field in white, like a thick plushy blanket. Acres of white blanket.

The few people who come upon this sight pull over to the side of the road, turning the engine off. They wait. Photographers will quietly set up a tripod. No one moves fast, honks, yells or waves. We all wait for it to happen. If you've seen it once, you'll wait as long as it takes to see it again. Making it happen would be considered poor sportsmanship.

Finally, some signal alerts the whole flock of these heavy, royal swans it's time. With wingspans as tall as a person, they spread their massive wings to fly. It always starts in one corner of the field as they begin to lift off, looking just like a blanket gently being turned back on a bed, then hurled high, across the sky.

It's not the same as a flag being raised, the national anthem being sung, Fourth of July grand finales, a parade, or a Hallmark commercial. The emotion it evokes might be in the same family, but it's nature, a symphony orchestrated by an unseen maestro.

It is rare to see it happen, but each time it feels like a peek into Finn McCoul's giant private bedroom. Or God's.

The earthy part is that the farmer feels like they leave a gift, fertilizing his fields evenly, organically and generously.

The only response is a long whispered sigh, as you shade your eyes to follow them. During the turning down of the coverlet though, you want to stand, put your hand over your heart, salute or raise your hands to heaven in spontaneous worship, while trying to follow them through flooding eyes.


Anonymous said...

i love hearing about this. you tell a good story :-)

Craig said...

She makes "words" seem so easy. She writes them as if your there. You feel it, see it, hear it. AAAAAAHHHHHH!

Kathleen said...

We'll try to find a field for you Nancy - come visit. :)

Kathleen said...

We've had some fun finding treasures, huh Craig? :)

Anonymous said...

We have a lot of swans here also, yours must be on their way north...anyway I adore them also! ss