Sunflower SoldiersHudson, NY
Sunflowers Aren’t Cool
A friend invited me to photograph a field of sunflowers in Hudson, NY. This will be cool, I thought. Not hot. Not luke warm. Cool.
I now realize that I think this way about many things in equal measure – the way adults tend to do.
Sunflowers are Magic
And then I saw them. These weren’t just flowers. This wasn’t just a crop of organic oil. This was twenty acres of bright, beautiful magic sprawled across the rolling slope of a field before me. Each glowed with yellow and orange reflections of the setting sun, and I was filled with a warm rush of awe that I haven’t felt since childhood.
(Wait for the slideshows to play. it’s worth it!)
Soldiers of the Sun
I entered into the rows of stalks, all the madness of our world trailing behind on the black asphalt behind me. As I stood face to face with flowers as tall and large as my own head, I felt like an alien among them.
I was surrounded by soldiers of light who had easily conquered the coolness within me, bringing the greatest joy to my guarded, old heart. And I was not defeated by their victory. I was now standing among their ranks, beaming as brightly as they were.
Harbingers of Hope
Nestled alongside these mighty sun soldiers was the promise of more joy to come. Countless fist-sized, yet-unopened harbingers of hope stood ready to thrust their tender petals forth from under the protective wrap of darkness.
They would soon reveal their tender faces, gathering strength from our nearest star. Like every golden soldier who came before them, they too would use their power to nourish some small part of the world by giving wholly of themselves. They had already done so for me, even before their prime.
The Sunflower General
This sun soldier army belongs to a family who is trying their hand at producing sunflower oil. If it goes well, Reg Conklin is looking at another 20 acres for them to grow again next year. (Sunflower plots can only be resown every 3rd year.)
Who is Reg Conklin? He doesn’t own this feild, but he’s the general behind raising this army of joy. He planted every seed with his loyal Blue Heeler by his side.
“There aren’t many weeds,” he said, “just in a few clay patches where the sunflowers won’t grow. And these crops aren’t grown with any chemicals. This is an organic feild, just like the owners wanted.”
A Man in the Know
I met Reg when he pulled up and asked where we were from. He said folks were coming from all over and that the crops had made the news. “Who knew?” he said.
I think Reg knew. He felt the magic, too. But his is a diferent kind of magic. His comes from not only seeing all this golden glory standing tall in the day’s fading sun, but from being the guy to help make it happen.