Skagit Stop

Art at the schoolhouse

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Our Sunday plan of action centered around visiting relatives in Anacortes, but my suggestion to take advantage of the proximity of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival by adding a couple of events to our itinerary was met with approval by my two fellow day-trippers.

After exiting the freeway and securing directions from a friendly woman at the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, we set off for Christianson’s Nursery, where we planned to pick up a blooming beauty for our hostess and also peruse the Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s 11th annual “Art at the Schoolhouse” exhibit.

A tulip-trekker bottleneck on McLean Road caused some cursing from the driver, but I viewed the slower pace as an opportunity to check out the blooming home gardens along the way, and took advantage of my backseat status to zone out and soak up the spring scenery.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot and found a spot under a budding magnolia tree, the most senior member of our posse was ready for a nap. My manfriend and I left him to snooze, and set off to explore.

Before securing our garden gift, we decided to suss out the scene in the 130-year-old schoolhouse. I’ve admired it from afar during previous visits to the nursery, but had never stepped foot inside. By the time we entered the front door, I was already in awe of the obvious dedication—and artful creativity—that had gone into the garden plots surrounding the storied space.

Inside, the view was similarly inspiring. Among the works for sale by 21 area artists were stained-glass pieces, paintings in oil and acrylics, prints, ceramics, collage and so much more. Many images paid homage to the nascent nature in the Skagit Valley, and I picked a “Beauty in a Glass Vase” card based on a painting by Norman Kearsley for our hosts (a steal at $2).

After making the purchase, we spent another 20 minutes wandering among the various greenhouses and plentiful nooks and crannies of Christianson’s—ostensibly to find a gift, but also because it’s so pleasurable to get lost in a place where plants of every shape and stripe are the main attractions.

By the time we’d wandered past long rows of colorful geraniums, tested a Venus flytrap, savored succulents, cooed to a couple of caged pigeons, and perused antiques, it was finally time to leave. A bright-yellow potted gerbera daisy reminded us of our friends, and we paid for it and brought it along.

The surly senior had woken up by the time we arrived back to the car, and he was anxious to see some “damn tulip fields” before we arrived at our final destination.

We didn’t have time to stop at Tulip Town or Roozengaarde, but were still afforded views of purple, pink, yellow and white swaths of blooming acreage as we drove past the iconic acreage on our roundabout way to Fidalgo Island.

“That sight could be considered an art exhibit all on its own,” my fella said as he slowed the car a notch so we could take a closer look. “Nature is such a showoff.”

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