Before this summer, my horticultural experiences were limited to several potted plants which inhabited the windowsill of my dorm room my freshman year in college. I named them Hobbes, Horatio, Handel, Herbie and Hubert. My lack of initiative in growing seasons past can be attributed to any number of things, primary among them my deep-seated fear of worms. Part of me had always wanted to transform a piece of lawn, but my almost-phobia and a certain laziness held me back.
I moved back to the Midwest this summer; at least, I think of Kansas as the Midwest, although I have heard it called a Western state. I grew up a few hundred miles away in St. Louis and had spent the last two years at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I left Florida for a number of reasons, but I suppose it is simplest to say that I needed a change and the most financially feasible option was living with my family for a few months.
One of my favorite writers, Chaim Potok, wrote, "beginnings are always hard." The first couple of weeks of my Kansas residency were torturous for me. I had left everything in Tallahasee: my friends, my job, the freedom of my apartment, my college. In effect, many of the external things by which I defined myself. Compounded with the difficulty of adjusting to life with my family again, I felt myself easily drawn to the farmiliar precipice of depression.
My sunflowers were a starting point in the creation of an identity for myself in a new place. I planted them because of a promise to a friend. He had planted some of his own, and suggested that my doing the same would connect us in a certain physical way despite the miles which separate. And so I did, and in Willa Cather's manner of speaking, my sunflowers became my "path to freedom." Instead of becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the unfarmiliarity of a new place, I became intimately aquainted with life that depended on me for survival.
What follows are dated entries mostly having to do with the prgress of my flowers. As much as I would love for every entry to have some profound double meaning, I'm afraid that a great deal of it will prove to be highly pedestrian. However ultimately I would like to have a useful commentary on sunflower gardening as well as an account of my adaption to a new enviornment.
Diary for June 1998
Diary for July 1998