Sunflowers: In Bloom This Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, the sunflowers bloom along our lane, as dependable as the sun itself. This native sunflower is Helianthus annuus–native, that is, to the Americas, although it has now traveled around the planet.

The Americans who were here before us used every part of the sunflower. They roasted the seeds and ate them. They brewed a tea from the flowers to treat pulmonary ailments, malaria, and fevers. They made leaf and flower poultices to treat burns. They chewed the crushed root and applied it to snake and spider bites and blisters. They believed it was a powerful aphrodisiac, as well. No wonder they carried it with them. No wonder it went wherever they went.

And when the Spanish came to the Americas in the 1500s, the sunflower went with them back to Spain. There, the edible seeds and the oil became an immediate hit. And from there, everywhere.

Contemporary times, contemporary uses. Sunflower seed oil is a valuable commodity. The seeds are fed to livestock and birds. The plant is a source of latex and can be used to produce rubber.

But I love it because it’s beautiful, and because (unlike me) it stands up to the sun on the very hottest days. That’s more than enough, don’t you think?

Book Report. Out of BODY, the third episode in Ruby’s Crystal Cave trilogy, featured investigative reporter Jessica Nelson. She was also a major character in Mourning Gloria and has appeared in several other of China’s mysteries. I’ve been thinking for a while that Jessica, editor Hark Hibler, and the rest of the staff at the Pecan Springs Enterprise ought to have their own stories. It’s timely, because (as you probably know) local newspapers are a threatened species, and Pecan Springs must not become a “news desert,” like so many small towns. I’m almost finished with Jessica’s first novella, called Dead Lines. Not sure about the publication date—maybe late the year or early next.

Many of you have asked about print editions of Ruby’s novellas. I’m  happy to let you know that the omnibus edition (all 3 novellas in one book) will be available in a couple of months. I checked the new cover and the page proofs last week. I’ll let you know when it’s up for pre-sale.

Reading Note; Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.—Thomas Jefferson (who held often conflicting views about newspapers)

20 comments on “Sunflowers: In Bloom This Week

  1. I recently hiked in the Rockies and was so pleased to see alpine sunflowers up in the tundra. They couldn’t have been bigger than a quarter at 13,000 ft, but I was so pleased to see them.

    I’m loving Ruby’s trilogy. I was hoping you would write more novellas from hers or other characters’ perspectives, so I’m glad to hear this is a series in the making.

  2. Decades ago, when our 2 kids were in elementary school, my husband teaching, and I was a stay-at-home mom, I tended a large garden to help out with the grocery budget. From the very start I chose to be an organic gardener not only because chemical fertilizers & “‘-cides” of all kinds cost money, but more so because I wanted our kids to be able to “graze” on fresh veggies without being poisoned!

    At the end of summer, I knew I would want to compost the vines & other dead plants, but could not afford to build a bin, so I grew one – by planting giant sunflowers in a 6-foot circle. At the end of the summer, I cut down the flower stalks to about 4 feet, storing the seed-filled heads to share with the birds that winter.

    When I cut all the fading cornstalks from the sweet corn I grew, I used them to create a giant basket, using the still-firmly-anchored sunflower stalks as the vertical framework and the still-flexible cornstalks as the weavers. Once I had my basket/bin, I added all of the spent garden plants after chopping them up as much as possible with a shovel and machete (!) and layered the vegetation alternately with a few shovelfuls of soil to add the soil critters I knew I needed to get things going. The contents didn’t all fully decay over the winter, but it did break down enough so I used the rougher stuff as mulch under the larger crops the following year and left the still-sturdy sunflower stalks standing for another year of composting!

  3. My grandmother had wonderful sunflowers on the farm in Kansas. I’m looking forward to The DDs and the Voodoo Lily (love this series!)

  4. How timely as I am wearing my sunflower ring today 😁 🌻I love them and all of your books as well 😊🌻

  5. I have a “vounteer” sunflower in my community garden plot and it just makes me smile! Thanks for your writing!

  6. I am sooooo glad to see Ruby’s novellas will be in print. I have all of the China books, and I have started reading the Dahlias books. Thank you so much for writing such great stories. My sunflowers are only 3 inches tall, in Maine we have a later start.

  7. Looking forward to the new series! I used to work for small newspapers in Oklahoma. I think they’re all still in business (so far). *gush alert* You’re my favorite author! *end gush*

  8. I have a hate-love idea with sunflowers. Growing up on a farm we considered them weeds. However, in my trips to France I saw them growing in rows on farms. I love how they turn to face the sun. I do like the seeds and roast them. Also put some out for the birds in the winter. I don’t put feed out in the summer as we have a bear in the neighborhood.
    I just don’t like seeing them in flower arrangements because to me they are still weeds!

  9. I am not an e-reader so I thank you for having them printed. Please let us know as soon as they are available.

    I grew sunflowers for many years. Then the squirrel population in the neighborhood just exploded. It was comical to observe the antics they would go to for the seeds. I think they sat in their nests waiting for the seeds to appear, or so it seemed.

  10. I had sunflowers one summer. Somewhere in the archives is a photo of my first husband holding our four year old daughter on his shoulder so she could – almost – reach the top of the flower. What a remarkable plant.

  11. Thanks for printing Ruby’s novellas. I’m not an e-reader. Wonderful idea to develop stories around those “fringe” characters but please not at the expense of the varsity players. Please, please continue to visit the Dahlias as WW II casts its shadow.
    As a reader advisor in our library, I enjoy introducing your books to our patrons.

    • I’m told the Dahlias have another story up their sleeves, Cookie–The DDs and the Voodoo Lily. Since there were 2 books in 2018, it’ll probably be 2020 before they manage to put it together. I’ll let them know you asked. 🙂

        • Oh, me too! I was so inspired by the description of a kitchen in the first DD novel that when we moved into our dream house (from 1910) I used the description as a basis for my kitchen.

  12. I enjoyed all of Ruby’s novellas very much! I’m looking forward to reading Jessica’s stories. Missed you at Book Club. See you in Sept.!

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