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Portrait of a Topped Tulip

A photo essay about fallen flowers.

Skylar Renslow
Skylar Renslow
3 min read
Portrait of a Topped Tulip

Hey folks,

Welcome to this week’s newsletter. With plenty of friends and family visiting, the last few months have felt like a time for me to play tourist in my own city. That has meant hitting the classics like Pike Place Market or even taking folks to harvest oysters. But this past week was something new. New to me, at least.

Each spring, people come from all over to visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, located about an hour or so north of Seattle. The festival has been going since 1984, and each year, hundreds of thousands of people come to see rows upon rows of tulips in full bloom.

The fields sure put on a beautiful display, but they don't prepare you for the darker side of the festival—the tulip massacre that happens right in front of you.

While you might expect expansive fields of vibrant flowering tulips…

…you’ll also find fields of tulips with the flower cut off, or “topped,” by the farmers.

Supposedly, the farmers top the tulips to keep the bulbs growing and healthy for export and selling worldwide. Or maybe it’s a sacrifice to the gods of the Pacific Northwest in hopes of a dry spring.

Whatever the motive, I found this far more interesting than the actual tulip fields themselves.

Some tulips manage to escape the topping….

…while others aren’t as fortunate.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth noticing.

So, let’s spare a moment for the fallen tulips.

Does the “Hot Hand” Exist in Hockey? This is always a fun discussion. I’ve had many arguments about the “hot hand,” especially as I’ve worked in the data/tech world my whole career. As a former basketball player, you’ll never convince me that the hot hand doesn’t exist.

The Surprisingly Sophisticated Mind Of An Insect - What is it like to be a bee or an ant?

Risking Life and Limb to Catalog the World’s Plants - Sometimes, I read stories like these and wish I had chosen a more interesting career right out of college. There are so many fascinating jobs out there, but somewhere along the way, we lose the imagination and get funneled into tech, consulting/banking, law, or medicine. That was my experience, at least.

That’s it for this week, folks. As always, thanks for reading/viewing.



Skylar Renslow

I mostly walk around, take pictures, and write things.


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