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I have loved Oregon from the start.  Since we moved here 16 months ago, I have been touched deeply by its peacefulness, friendly people, and most of all, its beauty.

From the Pacific Ocean and redwood forests in the south, to the great Columbia River and Douglas fir forests in the north, Oregon’s beauty is a blessing.  I’m grateful every day to live here.

Some of the state’s beauty is manmade, a sweet combination of nature and human labor.

Who knew that a sliver of the state boasts one of the last Easter lily farms on the continent?

Between the Pacific and the forests, there’s a strip of land along the Oregon-California border that has the ideal growing conditions for lilies.  It’s so perfect for this that in less than 100 years, almost 1,200 growers from Canada to southern California have tried, and lost, Easter lily farms.

Harry Harms, 60, is one of the last of his kind.  He grows bulbs on both sides of the state border, with son Zeke, and their California partner, Steve Hastings.

“I have never seen anything more beautiful than 15 or 20 acres of Easter lilies in full bloom under a full moon,” Harms says. “Gorgeous, just gorgeous.”

While the Harms home near Brookings is filled with Easter lilies this season, the fields have yet to burst into bloom.  It’s been a soggy spring so far, and the flowers aren’t usually at their best until June or July.

Besides, these farmers don’t want the blooms.  Petals are stripped so the bulbs will mature and be sent to greenhouse growers all over North America, where they’re “forced” to bloom just for Easter.  It takes three years before a bulb is ready. (More at easterlily.com.)

We’ve driven by the lily fields many times in the past decade — more often since we moved to Oregon.  We’ve always been intrigued by the “Easter Lily Capital of the World” signs, yet never seen anything more than green leaves in neat rows, in fields next to the Pacific Ocean.

Just seeing the sprouts is beautiful, especially after we’ve been hiking the redwood forests on either side of the border.

I’m thinking of the Harms family this morning, not just because it’s the day after Easter.  I’m thinking of them, with gratitude, because their decades-long work adds to the beauty of this state.

I’m thinking of Harry’s comment about the beauty of lilies under a full moon, because I’m writing in early morning, with light from a full moon spilling across my desk.  There isn’t a single blossom in our home, but Harry kindly sent us a photo from the farm:

Oregon lilies (photo courtesy of Hastings Bulb Growers Inc.)