My husband is from the Netherlands. One of those things I’ve always wanted to experience in life is Holland in the spring to see the tulips. I’ve been there a few times, but always in the summer months. When we went to visit his family last April, my one desire was to experience the tulips at Keukenhof.
Well, we never made it. But what we ended up doing was more authentic. My father-in-law and his wife drove us around to the various polders to see the flower farms. Polders are the fertile land that lie below sea level. They’re made when those ingenious Dutchies build a dyke and drain seawater off the land.
The colors were absolutely stunning. Every turn brought a field with an onslaught of bright blooms, so many that after a while I felt numb. There were tulips in every form. The amazing thing was that these flowers were being grown for their bulbs. In one field, we watched a farmer steer a machine that lopped of the flower heads. Behind him he left a crushed trail of vibrant petals. I wanted to run behind him and gather up the precious stems to take home. I resisted, at the risk of having the farmers thinking I was nuts.
The flat expanse of the polder is perfect for growing things. The misty skies made amazing photos. It was hard to take a bad one. We spent a couple hours driving around, leaping out of the car to snap yet-another-breath-taking field, before indulging in another Dutch tradition: ice cream. There was a ice cream stand on the corner of the road between fields, where two teenagers fished ice creams out of freezer compartments. Four drumsticks and one creamsicle later, we were stickily satisfied.
It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t Keukenhof. It was better.