The Beautiful Tulip Blog

The Dutch equivalent of New England leaf peeking.

We spent Thursday tulip spotting in the Dutch countryside. There are many tulip fields between our house and the ocean, so we started on the North Sea.

It looked like this.

It’s been raining and cool forever, so the sunshine was tremendous. Also tremendous was the cafe on the beach where we stopped for a snack after the dog ran herself ragged. We hadn’t sat in a cafe since before last Thanksgiving, so it was a bit of moment.

Then we wended our way home through tulip country.

The landscape between the ocean and Amsterdam in the Netherlands transforms annually into a floral sea with miles of tulip technicolor. I have written about all things tulip here if you want the backstory to this unassuming bulb gone big-time.

We passed field after field of color, and I realized that this is the Dutch equivalent of New England leaf peeking when you drive around looking at fall foliage. They may not have flaming swamp maples here for Halloween, but they certainly have fields of tulips as far as the eye can see each spring. And they also have lots of people out appreciating them.

In the end, I had to get out of the car and immerse myself. The air was sweet and thick with drunken bees, and the warmth of the sun seemed to radiate back up from the ground. Up to your knees in endless tulips feels a bit like standing in the ocean-or perhaps, like hanging out with the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. I guess it depends on how fanciful you are.

Tracking Subtleties

I am looking for signs of spring.

This guy turned up on the roof of my old bike shed last week. Technically he is roosting atop a fine collection of wheels mostly unused due to the ongoing COVID lock down.

Recently a screech owl owned the airspace over the house for the better part of a night. It was a wild, welcome sound such as I have not heard since leaving Cape Cod.

While we stay home, the local wildlife is moving into suburban neighborhoods.

We have just moved house ourselves, so we have a new bike shed, and I think I understand how the wildlife feels. Maybe not quite of one place, hanging somewhere in between, exploring new opportunities as they present themselves, making it up as it comes.

I walk a lot in quiet places tracking subtleties.

The change of light, the water level, where the ducks are feeding.

I’m looking for signs of spring.

The first shoots of green.

Growth and renewal, hope and the moment this wild, global card game of 52 pick-up can be resolved and returned to an orderly box.

Read more from Mary Petiet

Time, Rocks, and Endurance

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock.

A long time ago, a retreating glacier left a huge rock in my front yard.

Rock

For all I know, 

Rock goes deep into the earth

possibly emerging in China…

~Excerpts are from the poem Rock in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock. In summer, soft green lichen covers its top. In winter it stands above the snowline, and kids like to climb upon it playing king of the mountain. 

We live atop a scene of ancient devastation.

A long time ago, Cape Cod was born of retreating ice.

Before the trees, the road, and the house, the rock was here, and after all of today’s uncertainties, the rock will still be here.

Like the sky above and the ocean that surrounds the Cape, Rock sits in mute testament to endurance.

The sky and the ocean.

Does Rock remember?

Perhaps. 

Do we remember?

Absolutely.

Low tide reveals ancient glacial rocks on a Cape Cod beach.

To sit with rock is to remember the long game, the endless bend and stretch of time. Rock is of the eons and surely full of stories.

We are of this moment, and also full of stories, and we share with Rock this capacity to endure. 

Read Rock’s whole story in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Dog Tales

You can never be sure what you’ll find…

Every so often, Cape Codders think about declaring an independent state. It’s a fine idea. The place is unique enough to warrant statehood, but it hasn’t flown yet.

It’s really just a big beach.

As Labor Day weekend winds down, I’m wondering from an off-Cape vantage if instead of statehood, the Cape shouldn’t have its own calendar.

Cape Codders know fall does not start locally with the equinox on the astronomical first day of fall, which occurs this year on September 22. Instead, it begins on Labor Day weekend when summer people depart, and locals get the place back again.

It’s a magical moment of sudden quiet at the end of a long, hot, busy summer.

It’s also the moment dogs are allowed back on the beach, and there is nothing finer than beachcombing with a good dog. You can never be sure what you’ll find.

My black pointer lab mix Daisy loved the ocean, and I think her best find ever was a large quahog she dug out of the low tide flats. When she trotted back to me with this treasure, I opened it with a rock, and she savored every bite of the delicate meat inside. She loved seafood.

I have found all kinds of things on the beach over the years, and the best find is always a horseshoe crab because they are so rare now. The worst is litter. Some of it’s useful, such as the new life jacket I found wedged by the tide into a breakwater. Some of it’s tragic, like the dead seal that washed up occasioning a visit from the environmental police, and some of it’s just plain sad, like the garbage.

Most of the time Cape beaches are beautiful and pristine. You find the odd bit of plastic and pick it up, problem solved. But once, a few falls ago after Labor Day, we were out walking the beach on an incoming moon tide driven by a strong northeast wind, and I found more trash than we could carry. It was a stark reminder of two things: the oncoming winter and what is floating around out there that shouldn’t be.

So I wrote a poem about it.

Special Labor Day Reading of the poem Beach Debris, from Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Moon Tide tells Cape Cod stories and is available on Amazon.

Old Cedar

If you have not befriended a tree, go out and find one to sit with.

Old Cedar knows why growing into the wind is certainly no solution. It tried to once, and proof of the attempt lingers in the twisted gray trunk below a shock of green on branches curved by the forceful old north wind.

~from Moon Tide:  Cape Cod Poems

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Old Cedar

The last time I visited my favorite tree on Cape Cod was in January, about six weeks before COVID put a temporary stop to travel home.

Old Cedar lives on a quiet stretch of shore between the marsh and the ocean near a tidal creek and not far from a friend’s boathouse. I like to sit at the base of the tree and survey my kingdom.

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The view from Old Cedar

If you have not befriended a tree, go out and find one to sit with. The world is full of wise old trees.

The green leaves at the top of Old Cedar are gone now, and as the ocean claims it from below, there is not much left, really. It is becoming the skeleton of a tree, the very memory of a tree.

I found two feathers stuck fast into the Old Cedar’s tangled branches the last time I visited, so I suspect I am not the only one. Maybe trees have some memory of their ancient sacred role in pagan belief, and maybe that adds to what they can teach us now.

As the world changes around me, I think about Old Cedar, and how it chose to grow with the wind instead of against it, how its roots have held it tight for so long, and how in the near future it must inevitably be swept out to sea to make room for whatever new thing comes next.

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The poem Old Cedar can be found In Moon Tide from Sea Crow Press.