It’s harvest time in the North, when Canada celebrates Thanksgiving with a holiday. This year I give thanks for my loved ones, my community, for living in the Pacific Northwest, and for health. I’m grateful for days filled with joy, fun, purpose, and positive connections.
In Our Year of the Sunflower, I’m also grateful that not all of us take what we have for granted. I’m thankful for those with the strength to inform themselves of the existential threats facing us and all that we cherish. I’m especially thankful for the few who are capable of working together to tackle the threats.
Sunflowers have always represented beacons of light and life to me, especially so in our times of environmental collapse, pandemics, polarization, and warlords on the move with weapons of mass destruction.
Sunflowers became a global symbol early this year because of Ukraine’s fight for survival against warmonger Russia. “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets,” a Ukrainian woman told a Russian gunman, tossing seeds at him, “so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.” The video of that exchange went viral, and suddenly images of sunflowers bloomed throughout the free world.
Now that Autumn has arrived, what are we to make of these sunny symbols? Our once-perky flowers are weary. Their heads hang. Their leaves droop. Their thick and sturdy stalks have withered and are turning black with rot.
Our sunflowers are spent. What of our hopes?
Wait. Look again, closely. The petals, leaves, and stalks of sunflowers are indeed spent. And yet they brim with hope — more so now than at any time of their lives. They have invested every gram of their life force in seeds, beacons of a future coated in hard protective shells, waiting for the right time to bust open and proclaim themselves to the world.
The work of this year’s sunflowers is done. They’re taking a much-needed break, and are ready to spring forth again.
Happy Harvest. Happy Thanksgiving.
Top and centre photographs of a patch of sunflowers planted alongside a public thoroughfare in Vancouver, Canada, surrounded by poles painted in Ukraine’s yellow and blue colours.