SUNFLOWERS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
In every direction, the fields are brilliant with sunflowers, all facing the rising sun. Blooming late this year, they are even more beautiful than in past years, if that’s possible. Welcoming the dawn of another day, standing tall, in their joyful dress, they remind me just how bright and vibrant life can be even after a difficult period.
We had one of the wettest springs imaginable this year. The never ending dark grey clouds and daily downpours seemed to me as if mother nature was shedding tears of intense grief. Green moss grew on road signs, 200 year old stone walls tumbled from the saturation, roofs leaked, and spring plants turned a yellowish green from lack of sunlight. But now summer warms the land and there they are, those beaming yellow sunflowers, radiant and joyful.
During that soggy and rather depressing spring, one afternoon my husband and I decided to drive from our home and into town for some shopping. Just minutes down our muddy lane, we came across a man at the edge of one of the fields we passed, waving his arms with a certain urgency. We stopped. He had a large van, full of beehives as it turns out, that he was going to place in various strategic positions along the edges of the field; however, his heavy van sunk into the mud of our primitive roads. In small rural communities such as ours, it is an unwritten rule to help those who clearly need assistance. So, we secured a chain to his van, hooked the trailer to the hitch of our van, and luckily were able to pull him out of the slip and onto dryer ground. His gratitude was clear, and we waved to each other as each of us drove off in different directions.
A few weeks later, this same man, who we did not expect to see again, stopped by with a couple of jars of honey he had harvested–a gracious thank you for our efforts of support. We offered him a glass of wine, and we sat to have a chat with each other. I do not know why I felt so at ease with him, but I had the impulse to tell him of my idea to build a gypsy wagon. He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea, and said that he knew of someone who might be willing to give me advice, perhaps even to teach me how to drive horses specifically for wagon travel. Best of all, this person was only a few minutes drive away. Giddy, I knew that this was how my project could move into another level. His offer was pure gift to the next step in my journey.
There are people who appear in my life for a moment only, but this moment may change my life. It has happened to me several times. There are also people who will be with me through all of my life. These people are my soul companions. I am blessed with loving and generous friends and family. The moment I felt my idea becoming too big to stay hidden in my dream locker, I began mentioning it to my family and to friends. This is always a terrifying decision, and I mean TERRIFYING. Yes, those negative voices in my head constantly tell me just how ridiculous I am. No matter, just close your eyes and blurt it out, I always say. What’s the worst that can happen? To my amazement, only one person acted less than excited about my idea, and most offered to help in some way. Everyone I talked with had great ideas. One friend suggested inquiring about horses that are abandoned or headed for the butcher. A couple of friends are excited about coming along with me on one of my trips in “Tôti”. One friend suggested I document the experience of working towards my project, as well as the final horse drawn travelling. This was really frightening, but here I am tapping away on my little iPad. Another friend suggested I write and illustrate a children’s book, so I started watercolor classes. My husband found information and books on the internet. Since he sees the practical and functional, he immediately had suggestions for the mechanism of the wagon. All of this positive encouragement has given me energy and real joy. I find myself looking at life differently and reading about other people’s excursions in horsedrawn vehicles. I discovered one family who travelled around the world during seven years in a gypsy wagon. What an amazing story!
But this is my very favorite, published in the 1800’s, a wonderful and unusual read, a journey in another era, written by a very colorful character…
The Cruise of the Land Yacht Wanderer
by Gordon Stables M.D. R.N.
In the preface he wrote:
“I have written from my heart, as I saw and thought; and I shall consider myself most fortunate and happy if I succeed in making the reader think in a measure as I thought, and feel as I felt.”
The book is available for free on Kindle but sadly there are no illustrations.