Sunflowers can be beautiful. They are the State flower of the State of Kansas. They are also weeds. I know this because as a teenager I had to walk up and down beanfield rows in Iowa and pull them out of the ground by the roots. They were slightly harder to be rid of than the hated button weeds and cockleburrs that made up the bulk of farm boy plant war enemies.
To be clear, a weed is a plant that grows where you really wish it wouldn’t. Weeds can aggressively take over in places that are outside their natural environment. They can, like sunflowers, be volunteer crops that come up amongst the desired plants, aggressively and with malice, to take away the moisture and the nutrients from the plants you are trying to cultivate.
But sunflowers can be a useful plant in their own right. As a farm product they can produce edible seeds, and sunflower oil, like soybean oil, has a multitude of food and industrial applications. Plus, as flowers, sunflowers have a certain hardy and steady beauty that metaphorically symbolize happiness and hope. It is probably the reason Kansas chose it as a State flower, more than the fact that Iowans hate it as a pernicious weed.
People can be sunflowers. I know at this point you expect a little Trump bashing, as both Trump himself and Iowa Congressman Steve King are examples of sunflower people. They thrive where you really don’t want them, and they are very hard to remove from your beloved country crop field. But hopefully, the system will pull the racist weeds out of the soil by the roots so they don’t grow back right away. Robert Mueller as special counsel has his farmer gloves on and he is already going up and down the rows.
So, enough about the weeds.
Let’s talk about the sunflower people we all know and love. They can be weeds, at times, too, but the most important things about them have to do with their basic flower-ness. Just because they tend to vote Republican does not make them weeds. They are all about a primary color. Yellow. That is the color of warmth and sunshine. One thing that always holds true about sunflower people is that they definitely love the people they love, and while living in rural farming communities full of sunflower people, you will be warm in the embrace of a culture that knows how to keep you fed and happy. Yellow is also the color of happiness. Sunflower people know how to celebrate. They get together in large family reunions with lots of grilling and lots of potato salad. They can sing country western songs, and often play the guitar. The women get together in quilt-making clubs that produce beautiful works of blanket art that makes you happy on cold winter nights.
And sunflower people have smiles that radiate who they are in the same way a sunflower does, mirroring the firey orb in the sky the flower is named after.
But make no mistake either.
Sunflower people can burn you with the force of their angry fire if you don’t do the right thing. Their frowns and displeasure can wilt you under righteous heat. And they can do it with just a disgusted look, leaving you as sunburned as a day at the nude beach without sunscreen. They can take root in your life and take hold in a way that eventually takes over, like the sunflowers dominating the flower garden. You had better pay heed, or your other blossoms are lost to you.
Well, that being said, I’ve already written too many words about it for today. I know many sunflower people. I live with some and was raised by others. And you are probably surrounded by similar blooms yourself.