Posted in Contemplations

Sunflowers by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Nancy’s Sunflower

As if celebrating our country opening up and people getting back to normal, sunflowers are popping up all around me. In backyards and parks, along highways, sidewalks and construction sites. These bright flowers worship the sun with their tall, strong presence. 

I love sunflowers! Their thick prickly stalks and itchy leaves contrast with their bright and sunny proclamation:“Hey there! Good morning. Get up and greet the sun with me.” 

I remember a field of large sunflowers in Tuscany right outside our bedroom window in the countryside near Pisa in June of 2003. The confident flowers were like a crowd of beaming faces welcoming us to Italy. We stayed there one night before driving to Lucca to meet my parents and sisters at an idyllic villa. Gary’s friend Morgan, who lives in London, had found Hotel Villa Maya for us. Our room was like an apartment for my family of five. The sunflowers seemed to stretch for miles and matched the joy of being in a country which valued delicious meals that lasted hours with families who sought out good times. We had a glorious Italian dinner in a large dining room the night we arrived and a fresh breakfast in the courtyard the next morning.

Sunflowers proclaim optimism to the world. They symbolize light, truth, strength, and loyalty. No other flower has such an open-faced smile and rustic beauty. And they’re as tough as Huckleberry Finn. The stalk will not yield to a pinch and a pull; you need clippers or scissors to cut a bloom. 

The National Garden Bureau has named 2021 The Year of the Sunflower, and our unusual wet spring, typical ever-present sunshine, and increase in new construction has given central Texas an abundance of sunflowers this summer.

So as we get back to life beyond the pandemic, we can follow the sunflower’s example. Stand firm, face the sun, and proclaim our readiness to meet and greet the world again. Van Gogh would approve of our sun-worshipping teacher.

Italian Sunflower


I grew up as a crooked girl who dealt with a mild case of cerebral palsy. In a small Cajun town during the 1960s, I relied on my little sisters' support and energy to give me confidence and our grandma's movie theater to help me escape when life's "pas bon" moments overwhelmed me.

6 thoughts on “Sunflowers by Ginger Keller Gannaway

  1. A poem I wrote at that time, inspired by the sunflowers.

    Love Song
    A window opens on a field of sunflowers
    Bordering a red dirt road.
    White sheets on a line snap like sails in the Umbrian breeze.
    Cobblestone streets lead us to ancient wonders,
    And small trattorias, open to the streets,
    Beckon with the warm smell of pizza baking.
    We walk along a beach, quiet in moonlight,
    Holding hands as the sea sighs beside us.
    Somewhere far away, far from the reach of our senses or cares,
    The world rages.
    But here the sand is cool beneath our feet.
    Memories of moments spent with you
    Sing to me through the years.


    1. Love, love, love your poem! It reminds me of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” and Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” You have always had a way with words!


  2. Thank you for mentioning National Garden Bureau’s Year of the Sunflower! We love sunflowers and enjoyed reading your article.


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