I felt like I was just released from prison. A flower-loving friend and I were on our way to Thanksgiving Point, south of Salt Lake City, to attend the Tulip Festival at Ashton Gardens.

“A six-hour drive and a night at the Marriott just to see tulips?” you ask.

Yes, absolutely. It may have been raining, it may have been chilly, but after a year of not having left town I felt a need to reenter the outside world.

The first thing I noticed was that convenience store clerks, the cashiers at the giant outside malls and many waitresses all had remarkably long eyelashes and exceptionally dark eyebrows resembling Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars — Battuus philenor to be specific. Paired with a mask, those eyes and brows were really something compared with my 12-hour Cover Girl water-resistant mascara in brown/black that I loaded up on when it was 40% off at Kmart before they went out of business.

Vanity takes a back seat at Ashton Gardens. To walk among the 55 acres of grand lawns, carefully designed brick paths planted with tens of thousands of spring bulbs imported directly from the Netherlands, is all the beauty anyone needs. Maps and arrows guided our way through 15 themed gardens adorned with classic tulips, Tulipa orphanidea, Tulipa sylvestris, fringed, twisted ruffled parrot tulips and endless acres of yellow forsythia glistening with a light mist of rain.

The 15 themed gardens included Scented, Rose and Secret. Built against a backdrop of pines stood the largest manmade waterfall in the Western Hemisphere. And if that was not enough there was a terraced Italian garden cascading down a very steep hill with steps beside a series of stone basins that flowed one to the next. In one basin a duck was treating himself to a luxurious bath.

I’d like to have a fountain, a water feature and some ducks waddling among the tulips. A nice spring project. I do plant tulips in areas beneath my aspen trees. Some live. Most get eaten by the deer, but every year I plant a few more. Sometimes you have to take a chance.

Walking through Ashton Gardens at a very leisurely pace took about two hours. I took photos of the waterfall, the tulips, the hanging baskets of pansies mounted onto poles, portraits of poppies among the tulips highlighted with primrose. I always forget about primrose; I should plant some this year.

The tulip gardens were wonderful. And so was my first-time-ever dinner at P.F. Chang’s. We had the lettuce wraps and the chicken something or other. Diners were spaced at least 15 feet from each other, and two people sat at the bar.

“Look at those tall beer glasses; look at those chopsticks,” I said, mesmerized.

If that wasn’t excitement enough, the next morning I went to the Starbucks next door to the hotel, ordered a grande latte from a very nice caterpillar-eyed young woman and then headed out to another place I’d never visited: Ikea.

Of course I’m familiar with Ikea products, stylish and fun. But, like youth, it has its peak moments — temporary and fleeting.

I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the Ikea warehouse seemingly as vast as Ashton Gardens. Entering the showroom I stopped dead in my tracks. The stunningly designed Ikea living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and baths were designed and decorated with strokes of brilliance. Fifteen-dollar children’s chairs, $4 pillow covers and modular love seats with washable covers never looked more appealing.

Four-hundred-square-foot rooms were appointed with perfect accessories, lighting, color, whimsy and great design. Nesting tables, stylish sinks, gorgeous gauzy curtains. By the time I walked through the first floor I wanted to applaud. I know, I know. I need to get out more.

Several years ago when I redecorated my home a friend said, “Well this will probably be your last sofa. Better get one you really like.”

“My last sofa? How old does she think I am?” I wondered.

Should age even factor into a sofa purchase?

Many young people move around and don’t want to be burdened with belongings, but there are plenty of downsizing seniors who want to lighten their load a little bit. As Ikea states in its 2021 catalog, “It’s not about what furniture you have but how you use it.”

When I got home from my adventure I wanted to just throw all my furnishings away. Could it be time to buy a pendant lamp? Franz Kafka wrote, “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Could this be the moment to swap out the 100-year-old china cabinet for gorgeous red metal storage units that look like vintage gym lockers that will match my $1.99 Ikea glass vase full of tulips I bought on a whim?

In the weeks to come Doreen Tome plans to focus on planting and weeding to take her mind off accent rugs and textured throws. Contact her via columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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