A Sunflower Story

What the hell is wrong with you, Neil?” my unsubtle editor Edgar Reewright shouted into the phone a couple of weeks ago. He had called moments earlier with a special request — he wanted me to compose a story about sunflowers — and I had balked at the idea. “I mean, what do you have against sunflowers? Just about everybody likes sunflowers, right? Right. Furthermore, if they were good enough for Vincent van Gogh, who, unlike yourself, was a genius, then they damn well are good enough for you.”

“Neil,” Edgar continued, “have I ever asked anything of you before? Other than demanding high payments to compensate me for the extraordinary pains I take to make your writings intelligible, the answer is no. I haven’t been myself the last few weeks, so a bright, cheerful piece about the sunniest of flowers probably will boost my spirits. Write it!”

“Listen, Edgar,” I said. “I’ve got nothing against sunflowers. On the contrary, I love them. I mean, they’re just adorable. Big and grinning, and their gangly stalks are so improbable. They’re like dogs that want nothing more than to please you, that know they’re goofy and would have it no other way.”

“So, what’s the problem, Neil?”

“Well, it’s just that I’ve written quite a few nature-related articles the last several years. I don’t want to overdo it, you know.”

“Overdo it? Neil, you can’t go wrong with nature. And I highly doubt if you have anything better to write about right now, anyway.”

“Oh yeah? Listen, Edgar, I’m planning to do a piece on the wonders of napping. I’ll explore its ins and outs: how I position my head just so on the living room sofa before nodding off, for instance. And how I awake 10 or 15 minutes later with glazed eyes, uncertain where the hell I am. Edgar, I’m one hundred percent certain that the readers of that article will be enthralled. My exciting revelations will have them panting for more.”

A few seconds passed. And then Edgar had this to say: “A short while ago I asked, ‘what the hell is wrong with you, Neil?’ And I was right on the money, because a better question hasn’t been posed anywhere in the world today! Napping? You’ve got to be kidding me! Listen up, haven’t I always strived to help you create agreeable product?”

“Yes, that’s very true, Edgar. I don’t know how you do it, but you whip my reportage into decent shape.”

“Thank you, Neil. Even though I’ll never figure you out, I have to admit that anybody who unashamedly uses a clunky word like reportage in conversation can’t be all bad. Okay then, I strongly recommend that you drop the napping idea and move on to sunflowers. Are we on the same page?”

We were.

Thus, during three walks in the latter half of July, in my neighborhood and in nearby towns, I kept an eagle eye out for sunflowers, and found about 15 homes on whose grounds they were displayed. Having strolled past hundreds of houses, though, I was a bit surprised by the low percentage that carried this form of joyful flora. But little matter. Every sunflower that I saw smiled at me. They truly were glad to see me, and the feeling was mutual.

But you know what? Despite the time I spent with real-life sunflowers, I have to admit that I much prefer a particular Vincent van Gogh sunflower painting over them. Vincent painted sunflowers a dozen times, and one of those oils hangs within the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, where I have passed hundreds of hours. (I’ve lived in Philadelphia or its suburbs for most of my adult life.) It very well might be the most popular art work in the museum. It certainly is one of mine.

Vase With Twelve Sunflowers, by Vincent van Gogh (image credit belongs to Philadelphia Museum Of Art and to vggallery.com

Vincent had the abilities to find the hearts and souls of his subjects, to bring his subjects alive in both traditional and unexpected ways. And he did exactly that when he painted the canvas in question in 1889. It is glorious and imbued with vigor. It has deep stories to tell. Sunflowers never have looked so good.

(My editor has been getting on my frigging nerves big-time. So, you know what? F*ck him! I won’t allow Edgar to edit this article. I’m going to press the Publish button right now. Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Mucho gracias.)

150 thoughts on “A Sunflower Story

  1. roughwighting August 13, 2021 / 7:49 am

    A cheery yellow-tinted post that makes me smile. Like sunflowers do. I frequent a local farm shop nearby, and after harvesting their field of young lettuce and spinach, they planted row after row (after row) of sunflowers. Each time I drive by my face breaks out into a HUGE smile. That’s what sunflowers do to us.
    So, great post, but sure, try one about napping. Maybe in the dark of winter, though?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 13, 2021 / 12:39 pm

      Hi. I would love to see a field or fields of sunflowers. The only sunflowers I’ve ever seen are on front or side lawns of peoples’ houses. Enjoy the weekend. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

      • roughwighting August 13, 2021 / 4:21 pm

        I wanted to include a photo of the fields near me, but I’m not a techie and don’t know how to do it. I promise – it’s beyond beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. alison41 August 13, 2021 / 9:50 am

    I dont like sunflowers, the actual flowers, the hairy stalks, the blowsy leaves. The only sunflower related thing I’m grudgingly prepared to endorse is sunflower oil for cooking, and sunflower seeds for baking or bird-snacks. That said, in general, I am a flower enthusiast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 13, 2021 / 1:11 pm

      Hi, Alison. Even though I’ve never read about it, I guess that sunflowers are grown on many farms, in order to produce sunflower oil and seeds in huge quantities.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. andrewcferguson August 14, 2021 / 3:19 am

    Damn Straight, Neil! Don’t let Edgar bully you! By a strange coincidence, yesterday Alison was accosted by a red-bearded man on the street who said he admired her yellow coat. And then tried to finesse her into seeing his Fringe show: ‘Van Gogh Find Yourself.’ I kid you not!

    Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson August 14, 2021 / 2:39 pm

        It’s reduced – some of it’s online, but there are live events. Feels a lot more subdued than usually at this time in August but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It had got huge.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. stargazer August 14, 2021 / 2:14 pm

    Sunflowers is a great topic to write about. They always make me smile, both the real ones and Van Gogh’s version. Also, they make me think of “The Day of the Triffids”, which is an excellent book. I think, the triffids were inspired by sunflowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 14, 2021 / 4:05 pm

      I just took a look at Wikipedia. Triffids was made into a movie, three radio series, and two tv series. It’s popular!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. sloppy buddhist August 14, 2021 / 4:07 pm

    I feel like my sunflowers are like little characters 🌻 currently mine are still tight buds … gardens of the north … slooooooooow ~ sending you joy Neil ☺️💫🕊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. shoreacres August 15, 2021 / 9:51 pm

    I love sunflowers, and I really enjoyed your photos and your tale of how they came to be. Personally, I’m more fond of our native sunflowers — we have so many different species! — but I’ll never turn away from any sunflower, or insult it.

    My favorites right now are the ones that are springing up all over a major road and bridge construction site I wend my way through every day. The workers keep bulldozing them down, and the flowers keep popping up. They’re the only flower I know that truly deserves to be described as indefatigable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 15, 2021 / 11:19 pm

      Hello there. I don’t know why all the sunflowers I saw are the same bright yellow variety. I’d like to see some sunflower diversity in my area! Speaking of flowers, on a neighborhood walk a few days ago I noticed quite a few properties with Black-Eyed Susans.They’re beautiful.


  7. Un po' di pepe August 16, 2021 / 4:45 pm

    I love sunflowers-even painted a few myself….but reading about the wonders of napping sounds insanely civilized! Ciao, Cristina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 16, 2021 / 6:44 pm

      Hey there. I visited Philadelphia today, walking around much of its central section. It’s a vibrant area, but could use more flowers. Especially sunflowers. Enjoy the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ally Bean August 17, 2021 / 10:06 am

    Finding this post on a dreary summer morning has made my day. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you, nor do I really care, as long as you talk about sunflowers. Yes, I am that shallow! How ‘ya been?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 17, 2021 / 1:54 pm

      Afternoon, Ally. Thanks for visiting. Speaking of summer, I’m pretty tired of it. Looking forward to the cooler days of autumn.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Vinny August 17, 2021 / 10:08 am

    Sunflowers are amazing aren’t they And Van Gogh was incredible. We had one in the big art gallery here in Hull. Starry night over the Rhone it was called. Beautiful.Just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rkrontheroad August 18, 2021 / 1:39 pm

    I’m glad you grudgingly got around to the sunflower part of the story! Where I live, perhaps the altitude is too high and climate too dry, but it’s rare to see sunflowers. In other places, I’ve seen fields of them, seeming like a group of children looking in every direction, each one unique. And there’s nothing like seeing a painting you love in person. When I lived back east, I spent many many hours at MOMA in New York learning those canvases.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Silver Screenings August 29, 2021 / 10:09 pm

    Sunflowers are so impressive, aren’t they? They’re bright and cheerful and so tall! I think the ones in my parents’ yard are nearly 9 feet high.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 30, 2021 / 7:34 am

      Hi. I was at the Philadelphia art museum a few days ago and took a long look at the Van Gogh sunflower painting that I mention in the story. It’s truly great.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Priti September 3, 2021 / 8:06 am

    Excellent sunflowers with beautiful description ☺️☺️. Well shared ☺️🌹💐

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Americaoncoffee September 8, 2021 / 5:21 pm

    I love the sunflower which are very fragile in many ways. Napping is a great subject and for me, my memories of napping date back to restless and naughty kindergartners that were restless.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Masal October 3, 2021 / 9:59 am

    I dont like sunflowers, the actual flowers, the hairy stalks, the blowsy leaves. The only sunflower related thing I’m grudgingly prepared to endorse is sunflower oil for cooking, and sunflower seeds for baking or bird-snacks. That said, in general, I am a flower enthusiast.

    Liked by 1 person

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