Thursday, May 27, 2021

Just a Little Help, Here and There

 I decided to try growing a few sunflowers this year, planting the seeds in a semicircle near the sidewalk at the front of my house. When I was a tiny pup, perhaps no more than five, I can remember encountering sunflowers and thinking they were miraculous. I was awed by them. Flowers were supposed to be small and dainty, but here was this bright towering glory, the bloom as large as my head, rising higher than the adults who loomed over me. For such striking plants, they're surprisingly practical. They grow in nearly all soil, they feed the pollinators, and us, too, with a little roasting. And yet they delight children and childlike adults. They symbolize hope, which is reason enough to plant them.

But they don't like storms and high winds, which come with greater frequency as the warmth of Virginia summer rolls in. Even before the flowers form, their top heavy wide leafed stems can become vulnerable to high wind. So as my small patch rose up past waist height, into the ground went the stakes, and the first of the gently tied supports were wrapped around stalks. Just a little help, here and there.

I finished that task yesterday, right at the local Storm Teams gleefully pitched out their alerts. Torrential downpours! Hurricane force gusts! Take shelter! Keep watching! As the thunder coughed and grumbled, and the darkened evening strobed with lightning, the wind rose and howled. I monitored the flowers from the covered front porch, until the spray storm driven rain forced me inside.

The largest flowers of the patch teetered and rocked, leaves fluttering wildly. They strained against the string. But they stayed upright. The storm passed. They were fine.

Just a little help, here and there, and they were fine.