Check the Box
Knee deep in flowers we’ll stray
We’ll keep the showers away
And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight
Will you pardon me?
— Tiny Tim, Tip Toes Through the Tulips from God Bless Tiny Tim

Every spring I hear that voice in the back of my head whisper, "Photograph the tulips that seem to spontaneously appear in the planters running down the center of Michigan Avenue." Until today, I never seriously bothered.  

In any event, the appearance of these spring delights is anything but spontaneous.  Nope, a KLM jumbo jet does not land in late April at O'Hare with thousands of mature tulips from Holland stuffed in the plane's cargo hold.  

The lush carpet of color is guaranteed seven months in advance.  Sometime in October or November, the Chicago Department of Transportation ("CDOT") plants over 100,000 bulbs in the cement planters that line Michigan Avenue from Roosevelt Avenue on the south to Oak Street on the north.  The bulbs are then covered with sod to protect them from snow, cold, and the chemicals that are spit out of large trucks during winter storms.  I wish they would cover my car with sod to protect it from those harsh chemicals.    

Each year, CDOT changes the color and patterns.  As the photograph makes apparent, this year Chicagoans are enjoying red and pinkish-white cups of joy.  By mid-May, the heads will be gone, decapitated by the elements and mother nature.

Everyone comes out for the tulips.  While I was standing on the median strip, people popped in for selfies, macro shots, and wide angle landscapes.  I saw people using cellphones, expensive DSLRs, and even a Sony video camera that must have been 10-years old.  Everyone is polite--even lining up in an orderly line for the money shot.   Well almost everyone:  There was that jerky woman who stood in the median strip about about a block down from me while looking at the photographers, as she jabbered way on her cellphone for  ten minutes.  Talk about being unaware of your surroundings.  As usual, if you wait the jerks out, they become someone else's problem.

This post is dedicated to Herbert Buckingham Khaury, aka Tiny Tim,  As goofy as we thought he was as kids, he was actually a pretty hip guy.  Not everyone shows up performing on a bootleg of the Basement Tapes.

Photographer's Note.  For me, this is a virtually impossible scene given my distaste for boxy grey SUVs and sedans.  There was only one way to deal with that problem: a neutral density filter.  What you are looking at is about a 2-second exposure.  Just for the record, I did apply a light dose of split-toning.  Yellow in the highlights and red in the shadows.

BTW, it was windy out there today, which means the tulips did not remain still. 

Keep Hope Alive



The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age