We have had our first sunflowers this year. They sprang up unexpectedly out of hallowed ground. This piece of ground is an oval of brown grass that lies between our garage and our would-be kitchen garden.
Just behind this barren oval, to the west, are the wild roses that grow, wildly, all along our back fence.
First there was this bare brown spot, an oval just the size of the shadow of a VW beetle. And then, out of bare earth, we got a this "Jack and the Beanstalk" plant with one great green flower head.
The green flower turned into this gigantic lovely, standing so straight and tall, looking right into the sun with its flamboyant bonnet of yellow petals.
By the time the one giant sunflower departed, a whole stand of middle-sized sunflowers had grown up out of this sacred place. How did they know to flower in this particular spot? A spot so large with the absence of something that is no longer there . . .
Here is what is no longer there: my little black VW beetle (1974-2008). My faithful friend. Here is where she sat, so patiently and trustingly, for the last year of her life with me, casting her shadow. And then I let her go. If you have ever lost a car that you loved, you will understand my heartbreak.
This spot where my little car last sat was a barren place all last summer and all last winter and into the spring.
Then, suddenly, sunflowers! Out of nowhere!
Or maybe not out of nowhere after all. Maybe these sunflowers are one last gift of love from this wonderful little car to me. In remembrance of our life together.
Sunflowers large enough and wild enough to fill up such a huge black hole.
Here is Van Gogh's iconic painting, and I wonder if his sunflowers filled up some dark place in his own heart and soul, if only for one brief bright flash of time. He made many versions of these sunflowers, but this is the one I love the best because it is the painting I grew up with. It was in a gigantic and very heavy book titled World Famous Paintings, edited by Rockwell Kent.
I know all the paintings in this book by heart. As a child, I often dragged this book out onto the floor and turned every page, looking and looking.
The middle-sized sunflowers came inside to brighten up our house. Here is one bedazzling bunch in a clear glass vase, looking very Van Gogh-ish, indeed.
Soon all of the middle-sized sunflowers were gone, and these smaller ones in a little jelly jar had taken their place.
From small, we went to tiny sunflowers, like these.
This was the very tiniest of all the sunflowers,
no bigger than the tip of a crayon.
And then from petals to pods.
Just before there was really nothing left but the pods, I used the very last of the tiny sunflowers and seed pods to create a diorama. If you look closely, you can see a miniature of my little VW hidden in this garden of what appear to be giant sunflowers. Little clumps of green clay are holding the flower stalks in place.
Thank you to the maker of these miniature cars!
I do feel as if this toy car is my real car, shrunk by magic into this sweet little talisman. During the lifetime of my car, I often dreamed that I had run out of gas or the battery had died. In my dreams I would simply pick my little car up, tuck her under an arm, and continue on foot, for she seemed that small to me, a treasure I could put in my pocket. And now she has left flowers in her wake.
Thank you, sunflowers, for coming to me!