Sunflowers of Normandy


During my last days in France, I returned to a small town in Normandy. A place where two of my new friends live and run a bed and breakfast. Most of us think Normandy and we think beaches. Normandy is actually a really big region and from Fountaine Sous Jouy, the beaches are still three hours away. So for a walk, I do not go to the sand, I go to the fields and forests and walk beside the beans, the wheat, as well as the towering birches and elms.

The first time I went to Normandy, the cool air of spring mingled with the morning clouds and the warmth of the day lasted a few hours. I walked from my friend’s inn to the river Eure and along the paths and roads of their village and the ones surrounding them. It was on this walk that I discovered a gigantic field of sunflowers. They were not blooming in late June, so I had to imagine what they might be like with thousands of yellow heads bobbing up and down.

When I returned to Fountaine Sous Jouy earlier this week, I spent two joyous nights with my new friends—where meals last three hours and discussions go as deep and delicious as the creamy Camembert. The gift of returning also allowed me to walk the area again. I was not certain that in just a month too much would have changed and during the previous week a huge storm had come through. A storm that my friends said, “rained ice!”

On my walk, I saw the bean fields had been plowed and the wheat was quite tall. The shade from the trees were welcome in the heating summer sun. Then I came upon the sunflower field and was bedazzled by the magnificent splendor of seeing all those yellow faces gleaming up toward the sky, little soldiers all standing to face the sun’s direction. Bees and black bugs buzzed around the heads, some of the plants had pulled down while others towered a few inches over their neighbor.

It am so glad I returned. Returning reminds me that there are many things in life worthy of seeing again. We all plant seeds of one kind or another—perhaps dreams or desires—and we sometimes forget that we have to return to the fields in which those ideas were planted to cultivate them and nourish them so they will come to bloom. Nature is a process, just like all of us are a process. The lovely sunflowers remind me to take the time to turn back and see all that has been planted.


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