Setting sun(flower)

Toward the end of  July I posted an image of a sunflower growing among many thousands of others in a field not far from here. If you saw it you may recall its color and vibrance. They say that Time Marches On. How true, especially if you grow things animal or vegetable. Shortly after capturing the image posted here (taken two days ago in the same field of sun flowers) I was surprised to find, in my WordPress reader, a post titled Before the Brown: Photo Series from a Moving Car posted at Play: Stories and Photos from the southern Saskatchewan Prairie. In this post M commented on the brief period between the time when crop plants have reached the fullness of their green, and harvest. I too am keenly aware of this respite and would admit that I believe nature’s pause to be all but audible as if the plants draw in a breath before their descent into autumn. In a similar way Joanna claims to be able to sense when plants take in volumes of water after a particularly long dry spell. Agricultural crops as well as plants which cover our surrounding hillsides grow rapidly, flower, set seed, pause, and then scenesce. In very much the same sense that the stars cycle in ways which can be predicted so to do all living things, yet on a very different time scale. In response to changes in the season our sheep are showing signs that breeding may soon be upon us. Birds are beginning to congregate; they are restless. Soon they will depart for ancient migration corridors to the south. I have noticed an increasing number of Woolly Bear caterpillars around the barn, a sure sign of the changing season. If you were to transport me to any particular time of the year I believe I could easily tell you to what month I had been transported. Joanna is much more attuned than I and would be able to tell you to which week she had been delivered. If this is no particular gift, then what would be our cues? There are many. The sheep. The pastures. The hay fields. The spring (from which we draw our water). The creek. The river. The trees. The deer. The soil. The birds. The feel of the air. The angle of the sun. Everything. All of nature reveals where in the cycle of the seasons you are on any particular day. Learn to read her … doing so is fundamental.


26 thoughts on “Setting sun(flower)

  1. Pingback: Writing Through the Senses: Condie Nature Refuge | Play

  2. Thanks 🙂 I have asked for these – evil alien spaceship’s weapon-like'(*) sunflower, and here it is! That grey, cloudy sky is a perfect background. It makes the faint residual traces of green and yellow glow.

    (*) I have a particular 1950s science-fiction movie in mind. Aliens attacking the world, probably ‘War of Worlds’. The weapons they used were shaped like a floor lamp or periscope, with that U-shaped upper part (as I recall it – this was about 35 years ago :-)). I was terrified by that movie as a child and withered sunflowers have reminded of that weapons ever since.

  3. Love this post David, and like both of you I’m very attuned to the little clues and shifts which flow from the changing light and season. The wonderful onwards flow of the year 🙂 love the photo.

    • It has always been clear, from reading your words and viewing your images, that we think alike in this regard. Also … thanks for all of your attentions this morning (last evening?). You should not have felt that you needed to respond to all of the posts that appeared during your absence. Although, truth-be-told, I was delighted to see all the comments when I logged on this morning. Have a great day. D

  4. I always know I’m missing good things when I’m away from the on-line world for a few days. Thank you so much for elaborating the details of that post. This is wonderful. I once lived across the street from a beautiful little church with stained glass windows and wonderful architectural details. Sunday mornings were often the only time I had to putter away in my yard and tend the garden. While I worked I would sometimes notice the judgemental stares of parishioners passing by or parking their cars in front of my house. I’d smile, thinking that if I were required to believe in a god, and I was told that god had created the world, I’d ask if I could truly offend god by choosing to spend time in nature rather than sitting in a structure made by men. Your post invokes my sense of awe again, the one that asks why erect a cathedral if you can let a maple tree grow?

    • I want to add a post script to this: I’m reading your stream of posts in reverse, so just looked at the previous one with discussion. It’s wonderful, and very interesting conversation on the question of whether or not the planet was made for humans.

      • I cannot take credit for this wonderful line of reasoning … one or another well-known ecologist said it I think. Man has been here, in this (modern) form, for perhaps 200,000 years. The earth is known to be 4.54 billion years old. So we have been here for just 0.004% of earth time, and if we round that number we discover that we haven’t even been here! Poof! D

        • You shared this perspective in other places, and it is so wonderful. I draw upon it frequently! There is a paradoxical response I feel about this. On one hand, I feel honoured for being human and being part of something so HUGE as this, and I feel humility for being so small within it.

    • Wonderful! Every Sunday, when nearly all everyone else attends one house of worship or another – I go outside and do chores! I am so pleased that you have responded to this post with the very same argument I have made for years. Perhaps one of us should post something about the difference between being religious and being spiritual! I should have some t-shirts made up, “… if I were required to believe in a god, and I was told that god had created the world, I’d ask if I could truly offend god by choosing to spend time in nature rather than sitting in a structure made by men.” That’ll be my quote-of-the-day. Thanks. D

      • We should both write a piece. You might know something that will help me clarify a bit of nagging doubt I have about my memory … I have a fuzzy memory of a story of Darwin conflicted as a young man, choosing between a course of study, either religion or science. I think he concluded that it is in the observation of nature that he felt more sure of God, and thus chose science. Do you know if this is the story, or did I make it up?

        • Although I am not an expert on Darwin’s life, much has been written about it. During his early years he was destined for the Church and the ‘easy’ life of a country parson. His excitement for natural history was I believe the motivation for medical school, where he didn’t last long. And then, of course, there was the voyage on H.M.S. Beagle which would change his life forever. Although his wife Emma Wedgewood had very strong beliefs, I think it is fair to say that Darwin went to his grave a determined materialist. Here is one of my favorite quotes … “Thought being hereditary it is difficult to imagine it anything but structure of brain hereditary, analogy points out to this. Love of the deity effect of organization, oh you materialist! Why is thought being a secretion of brain, more wonderful than gravity a property of matter? It is our arrogance, it is our admiration of ourselves.” As to your assertion that Darwin felt that science and understanding nature put him closer to God … I am not sure … and somehow, given his materialistic views … I would doubt it. But … yes, perhaps a good subject for a post … or, on second thought … would if offend nearly all of my followers? Something I am always careful NOT to do. D

          • Thanks for the clarification on Darwin. I was never certain of the story but it has persisted in my thoughts, for whatever reason. Yes, there is a strong sense of territory and delineation when it comes to religion. For those who don’t believe, there is a resistance to muddying the waters of faith with discussion of secular spirituality. For those who do believe, there is a resistance to sharing the waters of spirituality with others outside the domination of their faith. I’ll have to think on posting about these thoughts. But feel free to remove this comment exchange from your post, as I won’t be offended.

            • Oh no … never. I value this sort of give and take … very much indeed. This is a topic I feel strongly about. I would, however, worry just a bit about a dedicate post which focused on such ramblings … for a larger audience. I don’t know why I hesitate. But I do. D

  5. Oh I love this post! Gorgeous image, thought provoking prose. I agree that the cues are in nature, I am particularly keen to the changes in daylight, even incremental. And the sounds of the insects in the fields as I walk along them each day.

    • One-farmer-to-another … although these are things you and I are both keenly aware of, it is difficult to get this idea of natural cues across to those who are otherwise out-of-touch with their surroundings. Isn’t it interesting that you’d be able to judge, by entomological evidence alone, the seasons! Have a great day – we’re expecting a bit of rain over the weekend – and Joanna has a fleece-to-shawl competition – keep your fingers crossed that it’s not too wet! D

      • Crossing fingers! Is the competition outdoors? Just last night I composed (in my head) a letter to Joanna about rending my fleece into a woven good. I don’t know what her fall is like, but I’m hoping to send along a nice fleece after October 4th (when we shear the rest of our flock.) Anyway, yes, the peepers (amphibians) herald spring, the crickets, the cicadas, the grasshoppers, the various frogs, the red winged blackbird, so many of the small friends around here sound in the succession of seasons. I love that your post reminds us, or informs us, of the natural rhythm of life. This day is full of outdoor chores until the rain pushes us indoors. Trying to give the coops one more clean-out before the winter, might try to build a run for the hens so I can retire the run they’ve used for about 4 years. It’s such a chore building a run because you’ve got to get it right down to the ground so critters can’t get in underneath, and it has to be snow-proof above, yet we never want to invest too many resources into the structure, nor do we want it to be too much of an eye-sore in the end! My other huge chore is re-clipping the flight feathers on my giant flock of turkeys. They disregarded the trim-job I did earlier this week and fly out every night to roost on my porch railings. You can imagine what it looks like in the morning after 33 turkeys have roosted around your porch all night? Yes, you need hip-boots to walk out the door in the morning, and woe to the dogs that try to go in and out. I need little haz-mat suits for them upon re-entry to the house. Yes, another maintenance item added to the list. Meanwhile, the turkeys are gorgeous and fat and pleasant sound-makers themselves!

        Happy Saturday, D!


        • In haste. Yes the competition is under cover … and that is a good thing for it has already begun to sprinkle. Oh my, your turkey story resonates so true that I can smell it! Poultry ‘residue’ is the absolute worst … even more horrid than that left by hogs. [Boy, this is an unusual conversation we’re having … isn’t it?] Anyway … have a great, and highly productive, day. Will be back with details of the competition after the dust settles. D

  6. We are lucky to live in an area of the country where we get these changes of season. By now, I am tired of the heat and the parched lawn and plantings. I love the smell of the fall air and am happy to see my lawn, and other plants, coming back to life. What a difference two months makes to a sunflower! 🙂

    • Yes. Our lawns are also dry and the water level in the spring is down. Although we are expecting a few showers over the weekend what we’d really like is a real ‘soaker.’ Perhaps, however, given what has happened in Colorado I had better be careful what I wish for. D

  7. In response to your last post I commented on the beautiful image which accompanied it. I understand that processing the image takes less time than generating the prose, as in this recent sunflower contribution, but I am more of a picture person. What I can understand of the prose is interesting and informative and beautifully written. I am actually impressed by the prose, but as an artist I go gaga over the pictures. I love the way the sunflower encapsulates the fall palette of colors in such detail. Terrific.

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