Sunflower fields forever – Wordless Wednesday


Sweet sunflowers in bloom at Ladybugs Alive, a sunflower maze in Southern Maryland.
Like a cornfield, only prettier! (And, you know, hotter. Much hotter. But worth it.)


Sunshine in a vase


Remember in the winter, back when I was on the hunt for cheap flowers as a way to maintain my sanity through the interminable winter?

Well, I got addicted.

But I’m trying to behave.

At a time when we’re meticulously budgeting, $10 here and there might not seem like a big deal . . . but sometimes it’s hard for me to justify purchasing things that are just going to perish. Until we get a handle on certain expenses, I’m trying to be really careful with our funds.

It’s interesting. Hard, but a good sort of challenge.

When it comes to flowers, though, I can’t seem to help myself. They’re too lovely to ignore. Fresh blooms in the house just add such light, airiness and joy — simple joy. Beauty.

At the farmers’ market over the weekend, I came upon the most gorgeous bouquet of sunflowers — giant sunflowers, with heads larger than my fist. They’re yellow and orange with colorful blooms intermixed, and the Amish children that sold them to me smiled like sunshine as I carried them out.

For a whole five dollars.

I look at them every morning while making my coffee, and each evening when we’re pulling dinner together. They’re on the table in our new kitchen, the one still lined with boxes and bobbles and so many things I just don’t know what to do with — at least until our pantry is done. (The previous owners ripped out the shelving, leaving only dust and holes for us to patch — but we’ll get there.)

When will I learn?

It really is the little things.

Summer sunflowers

in a field of sunflowers

Much as my mom and I make an annual pilgrimage to document the cherry blossoms in Washington each spring, finding a hidden field of these bright sunflowers has become a project in the summer. This was our second year driving up to McKee-Beshers and, I’m pleased to note, they were much easier to find than last year.

The heat and humidity were oppressive and, honestly, I’m not much fun to be around when hot and sticky. I whine — like, a lot. Thankfully only parents were around to hear my nonsense because, you know, they’re used to it. I don’t want to tip my annoying hand in front of Spencer mere months before the wedding.

(Kidding — he’s totally used to my crankiness! He gives me a Diet Coke and it goes away. Miraculous.)

So the sunflowers this year were definitely in full bloom, soaking in the sunshine and hosting a million bees. We snapped pictures for 45 minutes before the bug infestation was threatening to give me a conniption and, admitting defeat, we headed off to dinner. The storm clouds that had threatened all day finally rolled in on our drive home — but we made it!





What’s the big deal about sunflowers? They’re cheery. Happy. Vibrant. Seeing such a cluster of them is enough to elicit gasps from the most stone-hearted in any group, and “cluster” is a bit of an understatement at McKee-Beshers. As we wandered around with our cameras, other families and photographers filtered into the open area.

I think it’s in our DNA to feel upbeat in a field of flowers.

Minus the bees.



Sunflower fields forever

We almost didn’t find the field.

My mom was told sunflowers blossom every summer at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Montgomery County, Maryland, and I found the photographic evidence to prove it. We got word the flowers were planted later than normal this year, so the peak blooming season would be early August. Fine and good. We also heard the sunflowers were in a different field than in previous years, one “to the right” of the main field — check and check.

After driving an hour and a half, we arrived at McKee-Beshers. We parked near the main field. We walked “to the right” and . . . nothing. Sunlight. Weeds. Bright blue skies . . . and no sunflowers.

This was already shaping up to be an odyssey.

We made friends along our search, all of us cruising around the property with harried expressions. We parked and got out, checked and moved again. Over and over. Again and again. It’s not that big, we reasoned; surely we can find these things? How hard can it be to find an entire field of sunflowers?

A half hour later, we were still looking — and had amassed quite the caravan. A family of six, the parents loaded down with camera equipment, strollers and car seats. Two friends fresh from an evening at the nearby Buddhist temple. A mother and her two daughters, eager to snap portraits in the waning afternoon light. A man, his daughter and his elderly mother, all dressed in their Sunday best.

At our final stop of the evening — at the very last parking lot, the very last place it could possibly be — Spencer and I hopped out of the van and ran ahead to a clearing. It was 6 p.m., just at the golden hour, and we were at the end of our patience. I was sweaty and hungry. It was starting to feel like this whole thing was going to be a bust — an epic waste of time and gas. A giant disappointment.

“If it’s not here,” I said to Spence, “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

If it’s not here, I thought, I’m going to completely freak out.

Yellow sunlight poured into a clearing as we walked out of the woods and into the giant field. I held my breath as the first few stalks of green came into view, blinking to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Seeing what I wanted to see.

But I wasn’t.

Yeah!” I hooted, spinning around to do a dance in my parents’ line of view. “They’re here! We found them!”

It looked like something out of a fairytale. Green stems and sunflowers as far as the eye can see — streaming out in the direction of the sunset, which was quickly turning the sky pink. Though many of the buds had yet to burst open, I was captivated. Totally enthralled.

The other flower enthusiasts poured into the clearing — a steady river of relief. The family of six set up on one side of the field, our group of four on the other. The mother and daughters got their pictures. The friends went for a walk.

We only had 30 minutes before the sun dipped behind a thick cloud, throwing the whole field into shade. Thirty minutes before the mosquitoes began to nip at our legs and ankles. Thirty minutes before our grumbling stomachs meant we had to break for food. We buzzed around the field like insects, snapping a steady stream of photos. My mom, enamored with sunflowers since I was a kid, was in her element — and we made those minutes count.

The sunflowers weren’t at their peak, currently sitting only about shoulder-high, but they were wild and lovely and fabulous. I’m planning to go back next summer.

And we already starred and marked their location on our wrinkled map.