There is absolutely nothing as beautiful and as showy as one single sunflower... except a whole field of hundreds of flowering Sunflowers right here in Oktibbeha County, Starkville, Mississippi State University. Sunflowers are like people cause “sunflowers stand out!’
What is a sunflower? “A sunflower is any of several plants whose flowers turn towards the sun. Rare, the heliotrope, Heliotropium eruopaeum. (A flowering steam of) any of various North American plants constituting the genus Helianthus, of the composite family, having conspicuous yellow-rayed flowerheads suggesting a representative of the sun: H.dnmus, a tall-growing plant commonly cultivated for its very large showy flowers and oily seeds. Any of various yellow-rayed plants of the composite family resembling a helianthus. Any of the various plants... opens only in the sunshine or in the daylight.”
The sunflower state is Kansas. The sunflower reminds me of the finest of all individuals, and when you see a whole field of sunflowers slightly blowing in the breeze each one seems to stand out as one fine person or one human being! The two words, sun flower are certainly two words put together to make this one majestic word, SUNFLOWER!
What is a flower? It is the state of being in bloom. A flower comes into being a flower when it blossoms and blooms. A field of sunflowers suddenly seem very collectively flowery!
From a distance as you drive along the roadside and spot a whole field of sunflowers, you immediately turn and see the bright color of yellow which is such a warm and cheerful color that makes you suddenly very happy! Your mouth turns up and you have to smile, cause each and every sunflower in that field, waving leaves as if they were hands and each blossom blooming is a beautiful face!
You can almost hear each of the hundreds and thousands of sunflowers whispering to you, “Have a great sunflower day...today!”
Each Sunflower is flamboyant which is gorgeously flamed colored (hot like a flame from fire—yellow and orange) like individuals, human beings we all know and love whose personalities and behaviors are ostentatious and showy.
Each sunflower has a flamboyancy about its very being when it fully blooms and blossoms, and in the end of their lives... they simply “go to seed!”
We each are just merely a SUNFLOWER ...we live, we breathe, we love and enjoy life to its fullest and in the end of our lives we “go to seed!” or “go to pot!” and “we play out too!” Birth, life, and death!
It was years ago, on May 14, 1997, that I headed downtown, Main Street, turning on the side heading to North Jackson Street right beside now, Cadence Bank on past Starkville Discount Drugs on the other side, and pulled into place called East Street Coffeatery. There right in front of this cute little new coffee shop stood an outstanding sunflower calling to me that day, “Hey, Carole, paint me, paint me, paint me today!”
I quickly unpacked my art supplies and began to get my outside art studio together to spend the next few hours sketching and painting one huge sunflower.
If you have ever spotted me outside painting, I look more like a “bag lady” who is simply sitting on a busy street corner in our town! I have even had people to stop and ask me, “Are you a bag lady?” “No, just an artist, want to come and look at my canvas?” Today, I chose a huge 30 X 40 piece of hard watercolor paper ... my favorite medium, acrylic paint.
I had a “date” with a tall and handsome sunflower! He kind of tipped his head forward and said, “want to go in an have a cup of coffee at this Easy Street Coffeatery with me?”
“I shall do just this, but first, I want to sketch and paint you, if this is okay with you?”
“He” sorta nodded as a slight breeze on that pretty early May morning moved his head forward and then to each side. We definitely had a date planned, but I had to create “him” first with my pencils and then my many tubes of paint had to “hit” my palette (be squirted out one by one...and I had a busy, fun, wonderful day ahead of me.)
He was tall alright. He would cover the bottom of my hard watercolor paper to the very tip top of the paper.
Look at his tall sturdy stem. Look at his leaves of various shades of green. Dark Hooker’s Green, mixed in with Bright Green, Yellow, Gold, and Lime Greens. You can even spot a touch of Light Brown thrown in too.
Oh, but his sunflower face! The middle of his face is huge and heavy. So heavy that each sunflower sorta leans forward from being so heavy and seems to be talking to each one of us. Image with me and look closely and find, his nose right in the middle and center of the blossom.
Look right above the little dark brown/black nose to two invisible but imagine two sorta of white eyes, and then find “his” cute little “flirty” turned up mouth. Look... far left of his round face and one part of his mouth is turning up. Then go from this dark brown/black part across the bottom of “his” blossom and you’ll see the entire mouth. The entire middle the center is darker at the bottom, but glance to the top now with me, and see the pretty colors of blue, gold, white, and yellow...soothing to your eyes... is just a pretty blend of pastel colors. Now look closely at each petal of ‘His” blossom! They are all and each petal different in shape and colors of Bright Yellows, Medium Yellows, mixed in with Bright Orange and Gold and Greens, and Browns! His entire face and the petals of his blossom is just plain handsome and cute, too!
I gave him a special name, “Mr. Sonny” but really spelled, “Mr. Sunny!” I sketched “him” for hours and hours before I even squirted one squirt of paint out on my palette. It was getting near lunch time, but I kept on working through lunch and into the afternoon hours. The background would remain white. It is difficult to paint such a large painting placed on a standing easel without getting even one drop of paint on the white paper.
I did make it with great success and had a pure white background without one drop of green or yellow blended in with many other colors on the background. I sighed... “WHEW” when I did this, and said, out loud, “Wow, I did it!”
I completed “his” portrait late that afternoon, and we did climb up the tall steps, and went in to have a hot cup of coffee at the Easy Street Coffeatery.
I well remember, Tom Dawkins saw me that day in 1997, and dropped by the coffee shop for a late afternoon cup of coffee. The business did not stay as a business too long downtown, Starkville right off Main Street, but it surely was a cute name and a cute “hang out” for coffee time! I “thanked”... “Mr. Sunny” for my cup of coffee and told “him” I had enjoyed meeting “him.”
Well, I had another date just this year, and last week on July 19, 2010, with a whole field of “Mr. Sunny’s” of hundreds maybe thousands of “Mr. Sunny’s” Sunflowers! Where? Just off our busy South Montgomery on the Davis and Peggy Hartness...Glenda and her two children’s farm place right here, again in Starkville. Tagging along this time was my sweet husband and best friend, Frank Davis, Sr. for 46 years and Dr. Lawrence Croft, a great photographer! Our destination, the sunflower field!
Look with me at this small insert in day’s column I am writing to you now. Are these hundreds of exquisite sunflowers to “die for?” I think so!
Lets go from left to right just as we are reading a book. We’ll start at the top of this photograph. Look at the blue, with a touch of cobalt blue and a white cloud floating casually by in the sky! See the dark green trees at the top and underneath the happy hot July day. Then look at the lime green contrast to the dark green trees as your eyes begin to come down into the “paragraph” just like a book (left to right) sentence by sentence.
See how bright and so beautiful..yellow hits...melts your heart....eyes keep on seeing the sea of yellow sunflowers!
It is a sea as they move and blow in the breeze that felt so good every now and then on just a hot, humid, and typical Mississippi July morning around 11 a.m. that 19th day of July.
Keep going to the foreground, and you will spot my sunflower umbrella, a birthday gift just this March 4, 2010, by my dear and “bestest” friend, Charlotte Ann Edwards Coker. We grew up together on Louisville Street. Charlotte Ann was just one street, Wood Street, and one house up which still sits on top of hill, and we played for hours together growing up...just about every day!
When I opened up this year’s birthday gift, Charlotte Ann said to me, “Carole, I bet you will find a special day when you are out painting or thinking about a painting that you will take my gift of this sunflower umbrella along with you.”
“Well, Charlotte Ann, I found the perfect day, and your thoughtful, unusual gift went along too!”
It was definitely hot on July 19, and her umbrella was quickly popped up as shade for me in the sunflower field! I wore another gift from a lady who use to live here in Starkville, but has moved now to live with her son in Atlanta, Ga., Jan Peterson.
One day my doorbell rang, and there stood Jan Peterson, whose husband was Dr. John Peterson who has since died several years ago.
In her hands she was holding this bright yellow straw hat with its turned up brim literally covered with sunflowers. When I was dressing for my “date” in the sunflower field, I decided to wear my white sundress and threw on my yellow, white and crystal dangling earrings along with my large crystal heart necklace on a fishing tackle chain around my neck.
As I look now at this photograph, I am reminded of two girl friends who gave me two treasured gifts, a sunflower umbrella and a sunflower straw hat! These are two treasured gifts, but most of all, my treasured friendships with Charlotte Ann and Jan.
Life is made up of friends you keep close in your heart and your mind. Sunflowers are like people with real faces. Each sunflower is an individual...each one has a different shape and personality. Some are large, some are medium-sized and some are small. Some twist this way and some twist that way. Some are quiet and some are loud and noisy. Sunflowers remind me of individual people and just plain Mississippi folks!
Every day, all day long, every second, minute, hour we have to live on this place we call Earth...we each should search and find a sunflower field somewhere if it is only in our imagination!
I glanced down at the almost white dried dirt in the Hartness Sunflower field, and I did wonder what footprints I shall leave behind on this earth one day, and what footprints will you leave behind too? Think about this!
Will you and I be like even one sunflower that I found and painted in 1997? Will you and I stand up and stand out and become bright yellow with a very happy and cheerful attitude all day long every day? Come on, we can both do this...if we only have the right attitudes and outlook towards life itself. Think positive thoughts...be positive and as my Daddy, John Andrew McReynolds, II said to me, and I wrote down his four words to live by on his portrait I did when he was in his late 80’s. Daddy lived to be almost 97 years old with his positive attitude towards all of life itself, said, “Carole, never tolerate bad thoughts!!! Four simple words put together for me to live by each day!
There is absolutely nothing as beautiful as one simple showy single sunflower, except a whole field of hundreds maybe millions of flowering sunflowers...right here in Oktibbeha County, Starkville, Mississippi State University— God’s Little Special Spot and Heaven on this Earth!”