Yes, that's me, baby face and all, sniffing a sunflower. Look how non-grey my hair was back then. And no, sunflowers don't really have a lovely flower fragrance. To take the picture, Aimee asked me to climb a little mound and stand in the middle of the flowers. I paid for my compliance with tiny cuts and hives on my arms and legs. She framed my picture (the one above) and kept it on her nightstand until the day she died.
After that first adventure, we took family photos with sunflowers each year. Usually, we'd pose with random "dirt mound" flowers--the small ones from the pictures above which litter Kansas in late summer. A few times we found commercial fields of sunflowers, the big, fat-headed blooms harvested for seeds or floral arrangements. Sunflowers are stubborn plants, and the wild ones crop up anywhere they can find open soil.
Sunflowers held special meaning for us. I painted an arrangement of sunflowers for Aimee's wedding gift. When we honeymooned in Ireland and I started feeling a little homesick, Aimee found a flower shop in Cork and bought me a sunflower. The boys and I made her a triptych of flowers one year for Mothers' Day.
We'll take a family photo this fall, the boys and I in a cluster of yellow, and share memories of sunflowers past.