Solomon-area farmer Mark Pettijohn writes this poetic blog about how he has learned a lot from the sunflower.
Growth began as the sunflowers died. It’s been a while, seems backwards, I know. Like being alive in reverse.
Nobody ever seems to savor their “beauty” when withered, for instance, in December. I do.
Beauty isn’t always yellow. Sometimes beauty is the faint MEMORY of a glow.
I don’t like fading memories, like clouds blocking the sunlight. I loved them before they were born, before they emerged, anticipated their arrival, before they were full of color; like handing out cigars! That love exists also in anticipation of their return to my life, cuz while in their presence - I glow.
Flaming like a candle’s fire, and as they turn brown; mature. 24/7
By definition “a cycle starts over and over.” But where and when is the beginning, where is the end? It’s perspective, I guess.
Our current state allows choice. A choice like reoccuring meals, preparation, 3xs a day; Exhausting. Fortunate.
Version 2.0 has improvements. Next year’s sunflower crop always seems to loom better than before as if a coach could choose his/her favorite championship squad, a farmer, his friends, cannot designate that the best sunflower has already been crowned, shared, harvested; Impossible; nice.
Optimism fills the air. A better way lies ahead if open to change.
Crop failures happen.
Maybe ... fertilizer was needed, like new meds.
Maybe ... seed variety could be altered, like words.
Maybe ... a crop advisor, like a counselor.
Maybe ... a crop specialist, oh boy! A virtual plant psychiatrist. Is that a real thing? I believe.
Maybe ... conversations with other like minded disappointed growers, like anger management of sorts, 12 weeks to boot. Patience.
Maybe ... Mother Nature played a role in the heavenly plants’ lack of survival: God. Study the Bible (or the farmers’ almanac) I trust God.
Maybe ... an intense training; Manhattan? The sutras learned may help next year’s crop. The study of love and its languages are available and will be used to educate humans-spreading forgiveness, acceptance, understanding; deferring judgement, infinitely. Teaching.
Who doesn’t want that for next year’s seedling, frail like a baby deer? Baby schema. It’s a thing.
Maybe ... coffee shop talk, like a pastor’s advice, being firm, challenging and direct. One must not be afraid or deny God’s word. Listen.
You know coffee talk can be in your face, abrasive, constructive; an affront to your ego? Perhaps. But listen, improve. Self love.
Sunflowers are dependent, I say. Cater to them! Learn FROM them. Allow them to help YOU grow. Permit.
Maybe ... hire a new employee with brand new skills, take away stress like the fragrance you imagined when you closed your eyes standing next to a fully bloomed out sunflower.
Sunflowers are void of definable fragrance. Hmmm. A flaw? Only to some. No bother. Nobody demanded them to be perfect, they just are because they’re yours, just as your favorite politician or sports team “is yours.”
Go ahead - imagine. That is love. It’s up to you to define; your perspective, your right and yours to give away, freely. Or not.
Maybe ... not tilling the ground would help. Clods. Yuck. No till is like choosing to skip the camouflage on a hunt. Have faith. It might just work!
Spend the time saved to “make yourself better,” I was once told and off I ran ... not away, but towards the light. See it? Maybe.
It’s at the end of a tunnel like a silver lining your path. Charge at it. I did, like a horse from Kentucky bursting at a derby! Ignore selfish pride.
Expect complications, depression; suicidal thoughts. Hate to mention that one. Taboo? You decide. Real world stuff. Compassion helps.
Maybe ... cooperate with the authorities and agencies that push their agenda, their chemicals. They have the flowers’ best interest at heart, as if they were nature’s law enforcement agency, social services or the DEA. I’ve witnessed it.
You might resent pesky chemical companies as being, well, pesky, at best. Allow your love to be present, open-minded and available. That’s best.
Maybe ... ignore the naysayers who claim sunflowers aren’t worth the time of day. Resign yourself and allow them to have opinions and stay, stay, stay in some space where you feel content, confident and full of hope. No despair!
Live with your head up like the socially anxious among us who still need to find courage to walk through the grocery store without feeling judged. Say hi to him or her. Ask questions. They need your voice, not bad eyes.
Celebrate differences. Don’t be so quick to dwell in disharmony. Trust me, the sunflowers are worth it!
Maybe ... the seedbed wasn’t clean so change it next time; purge, like streamlining your home after the holidays close.
Maybe ... maintain relationships. Work hard here. That crop duster guy is important just as that family member, hunting buddy or lover is vital to helping achieve version 2.0 of yourself; Collaborate, compromise, Hear.
Maybe ... take better notes. Date planted, got it. Seed count, got it. Gallons of fertilizer, etc. Like a testament to a loved one, a journal involving the events of the day to one day share, joyously, and do a better job.
More accurately described, THAT is the life lived by a sunflower farmer who has more love inside than you might know or care to admit. Find out.
That love won’t stay there. It will be planted here and there and here. Count it: 3
I’ll show you, later, version 2.0. Not perfect, hold on. But an improvement from version 1.0. There were some bugs in that one, like head moths or aphids, perhaps.
Version 2.0 is more like the bee or the butterfly; a beneficial. But, alas, made to stay in a cocoon.
It’s winter, remember. So that’s OK, the cocoon; but I know how beautiful the sunflowers will be when they reappear.
Because-I never stop thinking of them; their best interests as well. It’s all written here: reread to see!
Mark Pettijohn is a no-till farmer in Saline and Dickinson counties. He has an accounting degree from the University of Kansas. He has three children – Gareth 17, Chloe 16 and Lincoln 14.