We made the happy discovery that several farms near our cabin are growing sunshine this year, the perfect antidote to 2020.
Fields of sunflowers stretch straight to the horizon and reminded me (I apologize for this) of the Brady Bunch classic, It’s A Sunshine Day.
I think i’ll go for a walk outside now
The summer sun’s callin my name
I just can’t stay inside all day
I gotta get out get me some of those rays…
…Can’t you dig the sunshine
Love and sun are the same
If that last line is true (and I think it is) there is a lot of love growing out there in the farm fields of Wisconsin.
I jumped out of the car at several points during our casual Saturday afternoon drive to take pictures, but I don’t think they do justice to the vibrancy of the scene — golden flowers, blue sky, red barn, green leaves and a bunch of happy bumble bees.
I’ve learned that North Dakota grows most of the world’s sunflowers, that sunflowers are one of this country’s few indigenous crops, and that sunflowers can be a “double crop”, used as silage after the harvest.
I also learned, thanks to the University of Wisconsin corn agronomy page, that sunflowers are not single flowers. From 1,000 to 2,000 individual blooms make up each giant flower, and, though some of those flowers are perfect, meaning they have both stamens and pistils, others are not. So, they rely on bumble bees for pollenation.
Until yesterday, I also thought canola oil came from sunflowers, but I stand corrected (by Molly). Sunflower seeds are used for sunflower oil, though, and for bird seed and human snacking seeds.
So, they’re useful buggers, which should keep them around for a while.
I mostly like them because they stand tall and follow the summer sun until it dips low, then they bow gracefully and prepare themselves for another day of preening.