at the very summit of the season

7.26.22 ~ Buttonwood Farm

In the circle of the seasons, there is no pause. Already summer slides toward autumn. On this hot afternoon, at the very summit of the season, signs of change are in the air.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)

Every year I look forward to visiting one of the huge sunflower fields at Buttonwood Farm. Summer is my least favorite season and this harvest, for me, marks the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. After two years of viewing the field from the perimeter, due to the pandemic, this year we walked through. 🌻

What a thrill, walking through, looking up at the sunflowers which seemed to be looking down at us, curious about the stream of humans admiring them. There were hundreds of bees buzzing and the sky was so blue. You’d think after seeing a couple of sunflowers it might get boring but on we went, dazzled over and over again. 🌻

After going through the field we returned outside by way of the perimeter, to get a little shade from the adjoining woods. Then we climbed the viewing hill and took some more pictures. 🌻

On our way down the hill I spotted a shagbark hickory tree, and I think the nut pictured below is from that tree. A shagbark hickory nut, I do believe. 🌻

As we returned to the grassy parking field we noticed the corn field with a viewing platform. It should be ready for the corn maze in September. 🌽

Since sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine the fate of the land of half my ancestors was very much on my mind on this day. 🌻 Sunflower in Ukrainian: соняшник (sonyashnyk) 🌻

And now, as I patiently anticipate autumn with all its bountiful harvests, I will try to focus on summer’s remaining blessings. Flowers blooming, butterflies and dragonflies, songbirds still singing, excursions to the farmers markets and pleasant warm evenings by the sea…

22 thoughts on “at the very summit of the season”

  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I love sun flowers. I usually grow them in my garden, but it was so dry this year I did not try to plant any. I have yet to find a large field of sunflowers to walk through like you have shown in this post. Maybe someday. I love this post – thanks you for sharing these beautiful flowers.

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you, Peggy! One of my neighbors grows sunflowers but the blossoms don’t seem to last very long. And the ones on this farm seem to last only for a week or two. But they don’t go to waste, on August 7th they will let their cows into the field to enjoy a feast. 🌻 (I hope you do hear of a sunflower field you can visit some day!)

        1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen red sunflowers before. Found some pictures online, they are beautiful!

          1. Thank you for posting the red sunflower pictures from your garden! ❤️😊

  2. Summer is my least-favorite season as well. But I love sunflowers. I watched the Tour de France this year for the first time (on TV) and noticed all the many fields of sunflowers, which were wilted because of the great heat wave there. I used to get a few volunteer sunflowers as a result of feeding the birds, but now I am enjoying my neighbor’s planned sunflowers instead. 🌻

    1. Interesting, Timi. I’m just learning that sunflowers originated in the Americas and were brought to Europe in the 17th century. They have flourished in Ukraine, which produces more sunflower oil than any other country. I used to put sunflower seeds in my homemade granola, but they’re too rough for my system to handle nowadays. Lucky you having your neighbor’s sunflowers to enjoy! 🌻

  3. A sea of happy sunny faces, and very Van Gogh! I concur with your final sentence, appreciating all the good things of summer. I might add crickets and katydids easing us to sleep. 🙂

    1. Ah, yes, as he wrote in a letter to his brother, Theo, “I have the sunflower, in a way.” 🌻 Thanks for adding the sounds of crickets and katydids at night. I love it when we can sleep with the windows open and listen to them lulling us to sleep.

  4. Another interesting walk, Barbara! Loved the bright sunflower faces. I hope the prayers and support that many are sending to the Ukrainian people have a positive impact and that this war is over soon.

    1. Thank you, Anna! I share your thoughts about the fate of Ukraine, although it seems the world is losing interest in their plight. Sadly, many wars seem to last for decades, like the War in Afghanistan. But the sunflower is a symbol of peace so we’ll keep praying for it. 🌻

  5. Barbara – this is so beautiful to see fields of sunflowers. I liked your other visits to this sunflower farm, but how nice after two years of looking from the perimeter, you got to immerse yourselves in the actual field and with a pathway too. I like how tall they are and so heavy they are hanging down. And all the busy bees!

    I went to the Emily Frank Gardens, a new locale for me that I discovered when the plein air painting group went there earlier this Summer. I follow the group on Facebook so I saw what they had painted, so I went that weekend. I had heard of this large garden before, but didn’t know much about it. I went in mid-June and they said “you have to come back later in Summer” so I did on Sunday. So many flowers and gorgeous sunflowers, but just a few rows of them or planted around the flower areas, nothing like what you have here. I did have some fun trying to take a goldfinch’s photo – he darted in and out of the sunflowers and big leaves. I like Summer for its beauty too – Fall is always my favorite season even if it is the prelude to Winter. Forevermore we will equate the sunflower with Ukraine – this time last year most of us, me included, did not know it was their national flower.

    1. Thank you, Linda! It was a glorious day. 🌻 The Emily Frank Gardens sound lovely. I would have loved seeing a goldfinch (or any bird, for that matter) darting through the sunflowers. Your comment reminded me that it might be time to head over to the gardens at Harkness for some summer flower pictures. 😉 Maybe after we get through the heat advisory Thursday and Friday. We might get “feels like” temperatures of 104°F. To be followed by days of thick humidity. Sigh. I’m pretty much staying inside now as the ragweed pollen is now abundant and Tim needs to avoid the heat and humidity. Adding more yoga to my days. Can’t wait for first frost, but will try to appreciate the flowers until then. It’s true, there are so many things I’m learning about Ukraine that I never knew before. 🌻

      1. We had that heat index of 104 F today Barbara – ugh. We have severe weather bubbling up around us. I have turned off the A/C but will stay online until the thunder begins – we are at risk until 9:00 p.m. We did get a lot of rain and there are some flooding issues in other counties. This heat and humidity can be a drag – you are wise to stay inside for both your health and safety. That flower garden sounds lovely too. I was glad I went. Now if I don’t go to a sunflower farm, this will be the next best thing. I got so lost the last time and I’m reluctant to mix/mingle with a crowd so I’ll wait another year to venture out. I’d have held off another week or so to see more blooms, but knowing this heat and four, (now five), storms this week, I thought they might get bedraggled. Perfect to visit gardens like this – all the beauty of flowers, without the upkeep.

        Like you, I am ready for cooler days, even cardigan days. We have learned about the resiliency of the Ukrainian people as well.

        1. Seems like you’re getting more than your share of severe weather. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a thunderstorm. With this drought we could probably use one. I hope you’re managing to stay cool and comfortable. The ragweed pollen seems pretty bad this year, my sinuses were killing me a few days ago but now with the windows closed and the air conditioning on I’m feeling better. Cooped up, but better! I might wear a mask if I go out to the garden at Harkness, although that won’t keep the pollen out of my eyes. (Tim suggested I get some goggles!) Still, I’m grateful for all the lovely days we had in June and July, and like you say, cardigan days will be here soon enough! 🙂

          1. You’re right about that Barbara – the weather is so erratic everywhere, but I am ready for Fall. We’re supposed to have another storm tonight and over the weekend. We lucked out last night as the storm had fizzled out by the time it reached us, just thunder and heavy rain and not the extra-gusty winds. But the 60 mph winds took down a lot of trees; one went through a two-story house in Detroit, just about 13 miles from me. The reporter posted a photo of the tree poking through a second-story window and its branches hit a sleeping child. The boy is okay.

            I wear a mask for Covid, but it is also helping my allergies. I have suspended my shots the past two Winters, both due to Covid, so they cut my shots down in Spring to build me back up. They have watered down my shots so much that I am sneezing this Summer, even wearing a mask. I take OTC Alavert 24-hour from April through the end of June. They also have a 12-hour pill. I like it as there are no side effects from it – I take it in the morning and it lasts all day. But now I’m off it, I’m still sneezing, even though I don’t go out the door without donning a mask. Goggles would work – doesn’t matter how it looks, as long as you are comfortable, but might be difficult to use the camera.

          2. That must be scary, having a tree penetrate the house during a thunderstorm. Glad the boy is okay but I imagine he might be traumatized…

            My father used to get allergy shots. We had to drive him to Hartford because it was difficult finding an allergist who believed in them. Any allergist I’ve ever been to has dismissed the idea. I used to live on Benadryl in August and September but recently I’ve had trouble with dry eyes so that’s out. Trying to avoid the (pollen-filled) air is pretty difficult!!! I’ve never heard of Alavert. Will have to see if it causes dryness. If I can just make it to first frost…

  6. What gorgeous photos, Barbara! We have a sunflower farm similar to this around here, but I’ve never been. Now you’ve got me wondering why?! Especially when these tall flowers are so picturesque! Hang in there — summer will be over before you know it (and we’ll be moaning over the approach of cold weather!)

    1. Thank you, Debbie! It’s funny how that works. Buttonwood Farm has been owned by the family since 1975 and we never visited until 2013! I hope you can visit your sunflower farm but check to see when they’re blooming before you go. And I only recently learned that on August 7th they will let their cows into the field to eat the spent blossoms. I’m hoping to go get pictures of that…

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