July 22, 2013 9:42:46 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do."
Occasionally an easy breeze blows through the tree canopy, and it feels cool. Other times, the wind is as still as death, the air so thick it's like pushing against a wall. Five days a week Shirley, my walking partner, and I walk about 7:30 a.m. Though it's still early in the morning, your strength will be sapped before that first sip of coffee ever touches your lips.
Some of the other walkers start earlier, saying it's a bit cooler, but for an hour more of sleep Shirley and I can do the "shade walk." We walk to the end of the shade, turn around and walk to the other end of the shade.
The other day Jimmy Williams asked about some mile markers he had seen on the road and just how far they were. I told him we didn't use mile markers, that we were doing the shade walk and that I just followed Shirley, who waves her hand in the air like a tour guide.
If there are markers on the road, I'm thinking maybe Nick Hairston put them there. Nick knows about all things road-wise. I heard he ran his little white pickup up to Joe Shelton's cabin where the pavement ends and back again on West Plymouth Road, to Old West Point Road, then to where Steger Road T's into Taylor-Thurston, before you get to the Elm Lake Golf Course. I heard it might be about 4 miles that way, but I'm thinking Shirley and I will stick to the shade walk 'til the temperatures ease downward.
There's much beauty to be seen on our 3-mile walk. If you peer just beyond the shade of the trees you can see Bryant Wiygul's sunflower field. Two years ago Bryant planted sunflowers on Old West Point Road, and we could see the faces of the flowers. We'd heard that sunflowers follow the sun, but these never did. They always stood tall and straight and faced their sunny little faces east.
The next year Bryant planted sunflowers over on West Plymouth Road, and all we could see was the backside of the flowers. To see the faces we'd have to squeeze under or over some wicked looking fencing, so we did without sunflowers that year.
This year Bryant planted on Old West Point Road again. His wife, Patricia, called to say we could cut as many flowers as we wanted. It's really quite the sight to see a whole field full of sunflowers. On your worst day you couldn't help but smile at the sunflowers.
Many a time I pass the field to see other passersby stop to take photographs with their phones. Summer before last I saw a professional photographer set up two of those white umbrellas and take photographs of a girl surrounded by a field of sunflowers. They were a sight to behold.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.