Tulips and Expectations

Tulips are my favorite spring flower because I view them as promise keepers. So, I was excited a few weeks ago at the prospect of visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon. You could say, I had expectations.

Expectations can be good. Or they can be worse than metal stocks. It all depends on how much weight is allotted to them during life’s moments. And how they affect the enjoyment of living in the present. Read more about my thoughts on this here.

The Plan

This tulip festival has been on my radar for several years. It’s something that always gets featured on the morning news I watch after my workout, so I’ve been wanting to check it out. For years. Talk about building up expectations.

My sister also loves flowers. She inherited the gardening gene from our mom. Me? I’m the girl with the black thumb. But even I can bury bulbs at the right time of year and reap the benefits the next spring.

We sisters try to schedule a day each month to get together and catch up. Of course, the pandemic suppressed those visits for most of 2020. One good thing about that, we don’t just “say” we’re going to do things anymore. We choose dates and get them on the calendar.

My sister agreed to take a day off work to attend the tulip festival. We’d heard the place was a madhouse on the weekend, so this worked out for our plans.

Of course, the pandemic restricts the number of tickets available during each hour of the days the festival runs, so this year it probably would not have been crazy on a weekend. Still, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

And look at the beautiful flowers.

The Promise

I mentioned in the opening that tulips are promise keepers. I view them as the rainbows of summer. Meaning: they promise that winter is truly past and summer is around the corner. A bit like a rainbow in the sky reminds us that rain ends and sunshine prevails.

Tulips bring joy. I gravitate toward the pots of them that appear around Mother’s Day at the local floral counter in my grocery store. I love every color. Well, except white (the non-color) and yellow.

So imagine my joy at seeing this rainbow in the fields during our trip to the Wooden Shoe Farm.

My sister and I fully expected an opportunity to purchase our favorite colors. We walked around every field, taking note of the names of the ones that caught our attention. We wanted to make sure we picked up the right colors at the end of our visit.

Except, the only tulips we could buy came in cut bouquets (unless you count the silk blooms in the gift shop they wanted to sell for $3 a pop, and I don’t). I would have purchased one or two cut bundles except:

  1. Most of them were green buds and nothing told me the color they would be. I didn’t want to spend $7 for a bunch of white or yellow flowers. I wanted Patriot or Salmon or one of the other colors we’d loved in the fields.
  2. I didn’t know if they’d survive in the car on this sunny day for several hours until I got home.


Now you see where expectations came out to play among the tulips.

First of all, somewhere I’d heard there were a hundred acres of tulips. I envisioned a couple hours of walking through the rows and snapping photos with my phone. The actual acreage was closer to forty.

Secondly, I wanted tulips. I didn’t want to just see, smell, and photograph them. I wanted some pots to enjoy while the blooms lasted. Then, I’d replant those bulbs in my garden.

Hello, when my husband went to Holland, I asked for tulip bulbs. Period. He also brought me Dutch chocolate (and I never turn chocolate away) but it was those bulbs I was most excited about. As an aside, they were for giant tulips and none of them have bloomed yet this year. I blame the late winter snowstorm.

The thing about my unmet expectations is that I still had a choice how I would respond to them. Would I get disappointed? Be angry? Let them ruin my day?

Well, here’s a picture of me and my sister. You decide.

How did I respond to my unmet expectations at the tulip farm?

What has been a field of tulips for you recently? Do you struggle with letting expectations take over?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.