Sunflowers

IMG_0436I feel it.
Fall looms.
It’s not the weather. I’m still wearing tank tops and donning a sweaty glow.
It’s the sunflowers.
Towering overhead, they face the sun and slouch toward the ground announcing that summer ebbs and fall flows.
The calendar confirms the message of the sunflowers. It’s about to flip to September and our family rhythms are morphing into school routines.
All good things must come to an end….

DSCF8673Just as the trees dressed themselves in spring, we planted our sunflowers, my baby and I. Methodically, we set single seeds in starter pots, covered them with soil and water then sprinkled them with the fairy dust of patience and hope. That night around the dinner table we imagined forward anticipating beach days and gardening, lawn mowing and picnics, exercise routines and bonfires, friends visiting from the four winds.

Every day after that, we watched and watered and wondered when our seeds would sprout. First, they peeked out as tiny green shoots. Then they outgrew their small containers and we transplanted them into neat rows in the big garden.
As we tucked their immature root system in the soil, I worried aloud that the deer might trample them but they didn’t. And pretty soon, with the late spring rains, they grew quicker than weeds and danced in the wind waving “Hello Summer”.
While they grew, we drove and flew.
We attended a wedding, and a funeral.
We buried a dog and adopted a puppy.
We mowed and grilled, walked and swam.
We picnicked on the lawn and at the beach.
And eventually our sunflowers outgrew my baby and then me. Some bent over after hard pelting rains or gusty southwest winds. A few even snapped at the base of the stem. The rest stretched for the sun and last week, after a nourishing rain,  finally bloomed all sunshine.IMG_0324

So why am I ambivalent, I wonder?
When I walk out to the garden to admire them, it’s melancholy I feel.
A whole summer of fresh, new mercies one day at a time.
And now it’s almost gone…..

It’s like playing a board game with an hourglass. You glance over and see there are only a few grains of sand left. And you feel the pressure to make your move—quick. Before it’s too late.

So I gather up the family and make my pitch at dinner. How about a family beach day? Last chance before school starts. All together this time, except for the one who’s not here anymore. And we can take the new puppy.

The sands of time, they can’t be flipped for a restart. In real, we don’t get to turn the hourglass over. We only get to ride this summer once and it’s almost in the history books.

So we’re intentional about finishing well.
We celebrate all of the sweetness, the surprises, the adventures.
The people who came from near and far to sleep and eat and play with us.
The food and flowers that grew as we kept our commitment to water them.
The places we went to serve and help.
All the blueberries we picked.
All of the waves we watched lap onto the shore.

And we make space to feel sadness about what we lost.
An aunt.
A pet.
Some innocence.

And we reflect on what we hoped for but didn’t happen.
The people we wanted to be with but weren’t.
The moments we could have been enjoying each other but sat in front of our devices instead.

IMG_1878This year, it’s the sunflowers instead of Rubbermaid bins that serve as a tangible reminder that the season’s changing.
So, I take my scissors out to the garden and cut the blooms with broken stems, arranging them in vases with fresh water. They drop bright yellow pollen on the kitchen table and I am reminded that fall has it’s own fairy dust of anticipation just beyond the transition.

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