If you've read the Jul/Aug issue of The Essential Herbal, you've seen the little sidebar Maryanne Schwartz wrote about the PA Dutch symbol, the distelfink. Distelfinks are "thistle finches" or gold finches and there are many around. There is one perched on the tip of a pine tree right outside the window as I type. In the symbolism of the old hex signs placed on Amish barns in our area, they represent harmony and happiness. Combined with cardinals and bluejays, they round out the color wheel here, bright flashes of color. However, the article also mentioned that the PA Dutch were quite superstitious, and some of that has filtered into my life. Only once have I acted on it, and I prefer to chalk that up to the insanity of menopause. But I digress.... The point is that we play a little game here.
For me, it began when I was on my way home from my final day of work before beginning the frighteningly expensive gamble that would eventually bring my daughter into the world. I was afraid and full of doubts, wondering if I was making a very bad choice. As I rounded a bend on a back road, there stood about 30 wild turkeys. I'd never seen wild turkeys before, and the sight was so magnificent that I stopped the car and sat and watched them. I can't explain it other than to say that they calmed me, and I knew it was going to be ok. I know, I know. It sounds weird.
Since then, I've enjoyed watching and considering the birds and animals that cross my path. When we were vendors at the renaissance fair, we started counting the ringneck pheasants we saw on the way each morning, and decided that they were omens of good money days - as in, "it's a three pheasant day!" It was just for fun, and on one of our best days ever, we rode along the way home, only to come across a large group of cows that had just discovered their freedom. They were fairly flying across the roadway, scurrying up into the field of grain. We called them the "happy, dancing cows" because that's how they looked. We enjoyed relating the story to the other vendors, who by then had started to ask us what we'd seen.... yeah, the ren faire is like that :-). As for turkeys, they've returned on a few occasions. Once when I was driving to meet my sister to look at the shop we were thinking of renting, and again, I took that as a green flag. Later, before signing the lease, we went to the beach with the kids for a few days to ponder that move, and a school of dolphins came up to within a few feet of us. They played at our feet, and my sister and I just looked at each other in astonishment.
But the point of this post (yes, there is a point) is sunflowers. One evening, many years ago, my sister and I sat in an apartment in NYC with our friend Laura, talking about our dreams and sunflowers. We considered how the massive stalks spring from the earth and produce the gorgeous blooms. The blossoms look towards the sky, growing beyond the bounds of "normal" and proceed to grow massive plates of seeds that are then scattered, growing more impossible dreams. Silly as we are, we dubbed ourselves "the sunflower women" and went for our dreams. To this day, I'll occasionally go to the mailbox and find a card from Laura with a glorious picture of a sunflower (or 3), and be reminded to keep going.
This year, a volunteer sunflower found it's way to my garden. This is no ordinary sunflower. Short in stature, it is a powerhouse of blooms. I've been watching it in amazement each day, and this morning realized that this flower is for Laura, as she embarks on an exciting new aspect of her career. So Laura, CHECK IT OUT!!!! This one's for you. Go, LittleBigVoice, and don't look back!