January 25 – The Sunflower

01-25 Sunflower State post

It is said that on the darkest days, the sunflower will still stand tall and seek out the light. I rather like that sentiment.

It may just be because I was raised in Kansas – the sunflower state – but I always assume everybody’s seen those time-lapse videos, fields of sunflowers craning their delicate necks from east to west, tracking the movement of the sun. It’s a marvelous thing to consider, that these organisms bend so literally to that glowing orb in the heavens. Everything that we enjoy is because of that mysterious object, and it’s promise to return in the springtime.

Entire populations have bowed in worship of the sun. It is the light that lets us see, the warmth that keeps us alive, the energy that draws life from the soil beneath our feet. Even in an age where the sun itself isn’t deified, it’s rising and setting provide powerful metaphors.

Today’s photograph doesn’t require much explanation. This is ‘pretty for the sake of being pretty,’ or ‘ars gratia artis.’ At the same time, I have a lot of memories anchored to this image.

Two summers ago, I walked by a small patch of sunflowers on my daily walk up Brewery Gulch in Bisbee, Arizona, on my way to Mimosa Market. The tiny brick bodega is another Bisbee landmark, although it’s far enough up the thoroughfare that many tourists never manage to set eyes on it (and those that do are often stymied by the cash-only practice). The proprietor had grown a little patch of sunflowers in the side yard, and I made sure to bring my camera with me one day to photograph the frenzy of bees rolling in the pollen like excited children in a snowbank.

I remember one monsoon season, years before I ever moved to Bisbee, walking up the road past Mimosa Market toward Zacatecas Canyon; the entire road was a river of water from the rains tumbling down the mountain from that morning’s rain-shower. A family was in the middle of the near-vacant road, and a baby in a bloated diaper from the water was sitting in the middle of the stream slapping her hands in the water and giggling. I’ll never forget how excited that fat-cheeked, mostly-toothless face looked.

There’s nothing like an Arizona monsoon. There’s nothing like saying hello to a beautiful flower as you walk by, every single day. There’s nothing like the collection of simple little pleasures that, together, are what make life grand.