George and Edward – so young and handsome, but already taller than me. Their heads were cut off and stolen while I was at work.
And then a few weeks later, Timothy was kicked to death.
Timothy, who grew up being stomped and pissed on; Timothy, whom I’d nursed back from the brink of death. Only to meet an end like that, days before blooming, and only steps away from Golfo.
I cut off Golfo’s head myself, before anyone else could. His head was already rotting with fungus; I’d probably waited too long as it was.
But isn’t that the way it is with all of the things we care about? If we wait too long to chop off their heads, someone else will do it first? So you wait as long as you can, and then you just chop it off. Because if you don’t, someone else will get all those seeds.
And the most meaningful gesture you can do for the memory of a sunflower is to plant its seeds.
George, Edward, Timothy and Golfo began their lives in my kitchen window, and were eventually transplanted near traffic signs; the original intention was to plant them behind stop signs, and the hope was that their large flower heads would bloom behind each stop sign, beautifying an otherwise boring metallic octagon.
People loved George and Edward – they were incredibly tall, and their flowers were huge. Couples came to have their pictures with them, and people in the street smiled in the street when they saw them. I even found that someone had been thoughtful enough to loop him to a nearby pool — perhaps he’d fallen over while I was away, and some thoughtful person had set him back up and given him something to lean on. I found this touching, that someone appreciated them enough to fetch some string for the sake of a flower on the street.
I had meant to let all of their seeds mature before harvesting them… but theft and dismemberment got in the way.
Yes, I came home from work one day to find that Edward was missing his head. Since the head was nowhere to be found, and too large to have been dragged away by a squirrel or crow (it was at least a foot in diameter and several pounds), I presumed theft.
Walking home in the rain that night, I took the time to take some seeds from George – the larges of all of the sunflowers. I am glad that I did, for his head was stolen only a few days later.
Later, I would fashion a hooked cudgel with George’s shaft. I’d never before seen hefted a mature sunflower shaft — you could beat someone to death with that thing.
I still mourn Timothy. He was set to have an autumn bloom and as small as he was, he would shone brightly on that modest corner.
And only today, I came home to find that Edward’s shaft had been uprooted and discarded. Thanks to my handmade swedish hatchet, it is now a bowstaff. And you could beat someone to death with that too (but in the meantime it will make a fine walking stick).