Sunflower Summer

Sunday, July 21, 2019

A couple of months ago, this sunflower plant appeared gratuitously on the sandy east side of my house. Beginning as two tiny leaves, probably gifted by a bird, it finally matured. Standing over five feet tall and laden with sunflowers, it’s drawn insects that pollinate, and likely, birds that love its seeds.

It’s a mighty symbol for me, a reminder of years when I resided on the Missouri side of a State Line that separated Kansas. Essentially, going physically to Kansas required crossing a dividing roadway. In America’s pre-high-tech days, Kansas was farm-like and cowboy-primitive. That began changing at the onset of the computer era which required lots of new development. In Kansas, industries found less costly and plentiful space for buildings and parking.

I moved away as Kansas began to explode, and so my memory of its side of that dividing state line is of a small town with surrounding farmlands. I’d drive along a two-lane highway passing spaced-out farms, with meadowlarks singing among tall sunflowers that grew in the constant, nearly overwhelming heat and humidity.

My Oregon sunflowers aren’t like those big Kansas sunflowers. To be sure, mine here are pleasantly nice and attractive in size. But those in my Kansas days seemed more huge. Their big smiling faces waving atop tall stalks somehow managed to wink and twink back toward an onlooker. Altogether, those Kansas sunflowers were most satisfying.

Locations and temperatures are support systems, they can redistribute and alter what lives. This fall, I’ll to go ahead and seed for sunflowers on my home’s east side but won’t expect these plants to grow into Kansas lookalikes. In all honesty, my sunflower memories start to beg questions about memory accuracy. But I wouldn’t travel back to Kansas to verify that those sunflowers still grow on tall stalks with huge faces that speak back to me.

Dear Readers: May your summer be another wonderful period of learning. Diana

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