Sun Flower, Bi-color Pro-Cut from Majestic Valley Farms on the
Tittmann property farmed by Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, Corrales,
NM, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
My mother is a simple woman.
She has thin lips, and for that reason she will put on lipstick if she’s going out. She hates her eyebrows, says they end too soon, at the midpoint. She actually went so far as to get tattooed eyebrows several years back.
When my sister brought Mom back from the tattoo shop, I was alarmed. It looked like someone took a Sharpie and cleanly marked a thick black line above each eye. I lied and told her they looked fine, that the tattoos were, in fact, a big improvement.
Fortunately, the tattoos soon faded into a more natural-looking gray, and so in the end, I wasn’t such a liar after all.
My mom loves the sun. Not in one of those sun-worshipper ways. She never sat outside on a plastic lawnchair until her skin turned orange-brown. But she does suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or so we suspect.
Even one overcast day and she becomes melancholy. She might read in bed or sit on the couch, occasionally looking out the window and wondering if the sun will make an appearance.
If you call her on one of our rare overcast days, she’ll say something like, “Ew, I just hate this weather.” She hates the wind, too. It makes her irritable.
Mom’s favorite flower is the sunflower. Big dark center surrounded by bright yellow petals. Native to the Americas.
The sunflower plant grows tall, taller than my small mom. In the bud stage, the sunflower is heliotropic — at sunrise the faces of most sunflowers turn toward the east, and over the course of the day they move to track the sun.
This year Mom decided to plant sunflowers in their small patio-home yard. My parents have narrow flower beds in every available space, and in those beds they plant all types of perennials and annuals. They also grow spearmint for iced tea, rosemary for cooking, and three or four tomato plants. Mom’s favorite food very well might be a homegrown tomato sliced open, sprinkled with salt and pepper.
My parents made room for the large sunflower plants, bought seeds, and in May put the seeds into the soil. The plants started blooming this week. They are sweet. The blossoms are not many. Just a couple, not even enough to fill a vase. Still, they make my mom happy.
Someone, somewhere else grew more majestic sunflowers than Mom’s. A young organic farmer, passionate and hard-working, is cultivating an impressive farm — Majestic Valley Farms on the Tittmann property in Corrales, NM. Heart of the Rio Grande Valley. The farmer’s name is Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, and recently his Bi-Color, Pro-Cut sunflowers were ready to harvest. They came early in the week, days ahead of the weekly Corrales Growers Market.
“I’m in your driveway, and I have something for you.”
“What do you have?”
“Open the garage door and you’ll see.”
Dad let me in. “Wow,” he said, and he shuffled from the door back toward the living room. His arms have gotten thin.
It was overcast yesterday morning. Mom sat on the couch, near the window, like a heliotropic plant herself catching whatever light she could.
“Oh my God, those are beauuuutiful,” she exclaimed, laughing as she got up off the couch.
I set the vase on the fireplace hearth.
“No, no, put them here, where we can see them.” She cleared a more central spot.
The flowers fit Mom perfectly. I think we all have a flower that is just our own. Just like how certain colors complement our complexions, or how we feel kinship toward one animal or another. Mom is the sunflower; the sunflower is Mom.
Just today I remembered how in our dining room growing up there hung a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Sunflowers. I hadn’t put two-and-two together until writing this post. Mom also adored a poster I bought years ago for my oldest daughter, Diego Rivera’s Girl with Sunflowers. It sometimes take years to realize deep in your heart that something is dear to someone you love.
By now Mom’s eyebrows are back to their original half-bald, cut-off-mid-way condition. I doubt she’ll get them tattooed again, although I bet she toys with the idea. I’d take her in if she wanted a touch up.
Hell, I’d be the first in line to take her in if she suddenly declared that she wanted a sunflower tattoo on her shoulder. She’d look gorgeous with one.
A-Not-Terribly-Authoritative List of Sunflowers in Art & Poetry
- Sunflower Sutra by Allen Ginsberg
- Ah Sunflower by William Blake
- An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower. by Ed. Blair.
- A Sunflower from Maggie, 1937 by Georgia O’Keeffe
- Sunflowers by Georgia O’Keeffe
- Garden of Sunflowers by Gustav Klimt
- Sunflowers, c.1888 by Vincent van Gogh (link in text above)
- Girl with Sunflowers by Diego Rivera (link in text above)
- …feel free to add your own…