I don’t do gardens. I love seeing gardens, and I love fresh produce out of a garden. But maintaining a garden isn’t the best idea for me. Not because of the work. That doesn’t bother me.
You know how people say someone has a green thumb? What’s the opposite of a green thumb? I don’t know if it’s a brown thumb or a black thumb, but whatever it is, I have it. I can kill the heartiest flowers and plants without even trying.
So maybe it’s not ironic that my favorite flower is a sunflower. Wild Kansas sunflowers are kind of like weeds, actually. It probably makes sense that the only flower that really makes me happy is one you can’t get rid of.
I love sunflowers. They’re so happy all the time, and Safe Haven Farm is full of them. We’re getting to the time of year when they really come out shining, so I’ll have to see if I can get some photographs in the next few weeks.
When we were very young children, still living in the Big City, we planted sunflowers in our little city garden. But they weren’t wild Kansas sunflowers. They were the ones with the big heads, the ones you get seeds from. I used to watch them, amazed at how the heads would turn to follow the sun across the sky.
I read somewhere that somebody says they don’t actually do that. So maybe they don’t. Maybe I had weird sunflowers as a kid. Zombie sunflowers or something. I don’t understand how people can say sunflowers don’t actually follow the sun when I’ve literally sat and watched them do it.
I did love those big old sunflower plants. They grew huge and tall, and we tried roasting the seeds when they were fully grown.
But there’s something about wild sunflowers that just makes me grin. They’re so much brighter, so much more cheerful, and they’re everywhere. I can drive home to the farm in the evening, and they’ll be standing at attention in great green and yellow clumps along the blacktop. With their black eyes blinking and their cheery yellow petals waving.
Nothing quite says Kansas like late-summer sunflowers.
I should write a story about sunflowers sometime. I think they’re the most underrated flower in nature. When you want to buy someone flowers, don’t you automatically think roses or carnations or daisies? Orchids or tulips are nice too. Lilies and mums and daffodils and all sorts of flowers like that seem far more normal to find in a bouquet than a happy, bright sunflower.
To me, sunflowers speak of long-hot days and warm, muggy nights. Their worn petals tell the story of a lifetime spent in the unrelenting winds of the plains. But no matter how hot the day is or how dry or how windy or how wet, they still look to the sky in search of the sun.
They’re stubborn, unyielding, stout, and tough. The wind can’t beat them down. The storms can’t scare them. And the extremes of life can’t make them stop looking for the great big light in the sky.
Sunflowers are the ultimate underdog, and maybe that’s why I love them so much. That’s the way I want to live. That’s how I want to handle the trials and troubles life throws at me. I might bend under the weight of the weather, but I won’t break. And I won’t stop searching for the sun.
Have you got a favorite flower? If you do, why is it your favorite?