"It's July Fourth, so here come the sunflowers"
By Jamie Miles
I hate to play favorites, but some things just speak to you. Not in words, but they reach out and grab hold of your DNA. Of all the beautiful flowers in God’s creation, I am utterly magnetized to sunflowers. And a lady in Rutledge is true north on a sunflower compass. Better yet, Rena Holt is a Sunflower Whisperer, guardian over 12 acres of mid-summer golden glory.
Plant one little seed and WOW! As heliotropes, sunflowers follow the sun. Starting every morning facing east, the immature bud rotates on its sturdy stalk to finish pointing west at dusk. The seeds in the flower’s head swirl in a wondrous mathematical way. Its parabolic configuration has a true golden ratio written with a funky polar equation. (None of which I comprehend, but it is cool to stare at the pretty numbers and graphics drawn by smart people explaining such.) Who understands beauty? It just is – and Rena with her kinfolk created a magnificent field of gold for all to appreciate.
The West and Holt families will host the seventh annual Sunflower Farm Festival this July 4 and 5 and recently one morning, I was privy to a preview party at the farm. Rounding the bend I saw them, thousands upon thousands of fair-haired heads with their expectant faces raised toward the sun. A lump of emotion (a very small one) gripped my throat. For they move my genetic structure, I can’t help it.
As a child, Rena helped with the cotton farmed in that field. Many years later with the acreage no longer holding cotton, her brother started planting sunflowers (a lot of sunflowers). Then eight years ago, when Rena was out in the field doting on all her beauties, down the road came visitors riding on tractors and waving flags. An epiphany hit. Why not share this pageantry with others by throwing a birthday party for America starting with a staggering 12-acre centerpiece?
So be sure to enjoy all the Fourth of July pageantry at the sunflower farm. Go to www.sunflowerfestival.com for more information. There is plenty of new parking and lots to see and do. But of course, the star of the show is the field itself. Visitors are welcome all July to help themselves at the pay and cut station – harvesting a bucket of splendor to take home. Just think, something so miraculous exists right here in Morgan County.
When you go, be sure to speak a word of thanks to Rena. I know she will pass it along to her family and whisper your gratitude to her celebrated charges. And if you look real close, I mean really close…you just might catch a glorious golden pedal nod in confirmation.