We haven’t really done much to celebrate the First Harvest (Lughnasa, Lammas) in recent years. But I’m finding myself looking forward to the Celtic seasonal festivals again, as a way to acknowledge the passage of time in more even segments during this long-lasting pandemic. So we decided to visit Buttonwood Farm for the sunflower harvest. ‘Twas good to get out of the house and go for a scenic drive.
Due to the high demand earlier in the week and the continued heat and dry field conditions we have an extremely limited amount of sunflowers available to cut. The walking field is still open although the flowers are past their peak.
~ Buttonwood Farm website
July was terribly hot and dry in spite of the oppressive humidity. Not sure how that works. Even the sun loving sunflowers weren’t happy. But I enjoyed capturing them in these less-than-glorious poses. There is beauty to be found everywhere, including in “past their prime.” (I know! I’m a little bit zen, a little bit pagan, a little bit transcendentalist…)
Someone was sitting in front of a sunflower, watching the sunflower, a cup of sun, and so I tried it too. It was wonderful; I felt the whole universe in the sunflower. That was my experience. Sunflower meditation. A wonderful confidence appeared. You can see the whole universe in a flower.
~ Shunryu Suzuki
(Crooked Cucumber: The Life & Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki)
It’s kind of amazing how many different sizes and shapes sunflowers come in. Like people. There were lots of people there, perhaps only half of them wearing masks. A few weren’t repsecting social distancing at all and we found ourselves darting away from a few animated groups of folks who seemed oblivious to our presence. Tim thinks some of them may have been deliberately harassing those of us wearing masks. I hope it isn’t so.
On the other hand, there were some families with well-behaved children wearing masks, doing their best to politely keep apart from others. I found myself wondering how they will make out when they return to school come autumn, if the schools still plan to open by then.
There was a one-way path through the middle of the field but we didn’t dare take it, not knowing how the people ahead of or behind us might behave. We stuck to the perimeter and enjoyed getting lots of close-ups of the flowers.
We are the Flower — Thou the Sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline —
We nearer steal to Thee!
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #161)
Tim’s computers weren’t communicating with each other properly so after supper he started working on them while I watched a bittersweet movie I hadn’t seen in years, Dancing at Lughnasa, with Meryl Streep. A perfect way to end the magical day.
We now have 151 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,402 confirmed cases. Of those 2 are still in the hospital and 103 have lost their lives. Even though the numbers aren’t skyrocketing here they are still going up slowly, so we’re still playing it safe and staying home, except for walks.
I am so relieved to learn that my granddaughter’s school in North Carolina will be in session remotely until January at least. It’s good to know that common sense has prevailed, at least in her district.
The spent Sun shines from its zenith encouraging the Sunflower in the dual role of sun and firewheel to perform its mythological purpose. The Sun appears to be whipping the Sunflower like a top. The Sunflower Wheel tears over the hill cutting a path through the standing corn and bounding into the air as it gains momentum. This is the blessing of the Midsummer Fire.
~ Paul Nash
The earth gives away for free the power of wind and sun and water, but instead we break open the earth to take fossil fuels. Had we taken only that which is given to us, had we reciprocated the gift, we would not have to fear our own atmosphere today.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & The Teachings of Plants)
We’ve all been on this spiritual path looking for answers, and the joke is that answers are not the point at all; the point is to have a blast with the questions. The point is not to hold back from the Mystery just because there is no final understanding. Along the way, incredible understandings come out of the Mystery, but the Mystery, itself, will remain a mystery.
(Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self)
Up and away for life! be fleet!-
The frost-king ties my fumbling feet,
Sings in my ears, my hands are stones,
Curdles the blood to the marble bones,
Tugs at the heart-strings, numbs the sense,
And hems in life with narrowing fence.
Well, in this broad bed lie and sleep,-
The punctual stars will vigil keep,-
Embalmed by purifying cold;
The winds shall sing their dead-march old,
The snow is no ignoble shroud,
The moon thy mourner, and the cloud.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last year at this time Tim & I discovered Buttonwood Farm, and since our niece Bonnie and her two children were in town we decided to take them with us to this amazing place. Waiting in a very long line (above) for farm fresh ice cream – made from the milk of grass-fed cows – was well worth it!
This shagbark hickory tree (above) caught my eye as we were waiting in another very long line for a hayride through the cow pasture and the sunflower field. The ride was bumpy but the tractor stopped every once in a while so we could feed the cows hay and Khari could take pictures of cows (below) to his heart’s content.
At Buttonwood Farm, 14 acres of sunflowers are grown to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, a non-profit organization devoted to making wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions. 100% of the $5 donation made when one buys a bouquet of these sunflowers goes directly to the foundation, a worthy cause. In spite of a cool wet spring which has delayed the blooms in the cutting fields, the farm went on with its 11th Annual Sunflowers for Wishes campaign.
Camera back in my hands, above and below are two of my sunflower-with-bee shots! It was fun getting these pictures at eye-level with the blooms. The wagon we were in was high off the ground and the tractor pulled us along into the middle of the field. The driver turned off the engine and let us take pictures and marvel at the sea of sunflowers in every direction. It was interesting to see the many unopened blooms mixed in with the ones all ready for picking.
The photo below was taken by Kia, when she finally got her turn with the camera. The late afternoon ride back to home in our car was very quiet. When Tim looked in the rear-view mirror he found all three of our guests sound asleep. A wonderful day!
Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young, when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.
~ Thomas de Quincey
(Confessions of an English Opium-Eater)
At Buttonwood Farm, 14 acres of sunflowers are grown to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, a non-profit organization devoted to making wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions. 100% of the $5 donation made when one buys a bouquet of these sunflowers goes directly to the foundation, a worthy cause.
Tim & I spent a pleasant afternoon there, even if it was hot and humid, meeting cows and taking a tractor ride through the sunflower field! We enjoyed our cheerful bouquet on our dining room table for the week following.
I have the sunflower, in a way.
~ Vincent van Gogh
(Letter to Theo van Gogh, January 22, 1889)
Has anyone ever heard of osteomalacia before? Turns out I have it, although before discovering this term, all I was aware of was the severe Vitamin D deficiency my doctor said my blood-work revealed last year. This whole experience reminds me of when I learned that I had menorrhagia for most of my adult life without knowing the medical term for it.
For the past year or so my doctor has been trying to get my Vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure under control. Thursday evening I happened to hear Dr. Michael F. Holick on the radio discussing his book, The Vitamin D Solution. When he mentioned musculoskeletal pain and muscle weakness, and even hypertension and a few other problems, being due to a lack of Vitamin D, I picked up my new best friend, my Kindle, and had the book in my hands electronically within moments. I spent the better part of yesterday reading the eye-opening information and finished it up this morning.
I think I now know how this happened!
In 2004 I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my forehead and on the advice of my dermatologist became totally paranoid about receiving any exposure to the sun from then on. Turns out this was ill-advised as I am now depleted of Vitamin D, in spite of supplements.
Just as we need a little fat and salt in our diet, we also need a little sun.
~ Michael F. Holick
(The Vitamin D Solution)
Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It’s a hormone!!! And every cell in our bodies has a Vitamin D receptor? Hormones are “regulatory substances produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.” The skin is the organ that uses sunlight to produce the Vitamin D hormone that performs wonders throughout our bodies. Cats and lizards don’t need scientists to tell them they need the sun!
For my skin type, fifteen minutes of direct sunlight a day on half my body around noon from May to October should be sufficient to turn things around for me, and also to store enough Vitamin D to carry me through most of the winter. Will be taking additional supplements, year-round, too, and eating wild-caught salmon (farm-raised salmon have almost no Vitamin D because they are fed pellets of grain instead of their natural diet from the ocean food chain) and plenty of sardines, too, which I happen to love, thank goodness. And mushrooms, the only source of natural Vitamin D in the produce aisles of the grocery store.
Fifteen minutes! Sunlight! A wonder “drug” for free! Of course today it is pouring rain, so I’m chafing at the bit, but I’m getting out there first chance I get…