Posted by: Louise | March 28, 2010


Our garden has been suffering from neglect. There is lots of brown stuff wherever you look – plants gone over, plants that haven’t survived our unusually harsh winter, plants that weren’t tended to last summer in the first place. Right outside the kitchen window is a tall brown stalk, bent double.

Astro boy planted sunflower seeds last spring. They were planted in the optimistic certainty that there would be a bounty of sunflowers come summer. Little green shoots appeared and Astro boy began to dream – there would be sunflowers peeping in the window of his bedroom (two floors up on a busy main road) saying ‘Hello!’ to him every morning. There would be sunflowers for him and sunflowers peeping in Daddy’s and my bedroom too. We watered his dreams right up until May when the bottom fell out of our world and life as we knew it ceased.

Within a week of Laura dying the 10 year old wisteria, crowning glory of our house, shriveled up and died in full flower. Shortly after the goldfish rolled onto his side and floated to the top of the tank. There was death everywhere. The little sunflowers one by one fell victim to slugs or dehydration. One held out against the odds.

Astro boy’s belief in his sunflower was unwavering. It would, of course, grow and grow and grow. It would peep in the window of his bedroom. My desire to nurture his faith in life could not overcome the overwhelming lethargy that filled my being. The courgettes withered away. The clematis gave up the ghost. Our garden demonstrated in action what we couldn’t say in words. And still the sunflower didn’t die.

sunflowerSometime in mid-September, when everything else in the garden had either done its annual duty or died, a little yellow flower unfurled on the top of the sunflower’s stalk. There were no record breaking heights scaled by this sunflower, no peeping in bedroom windows. It only peeped in the kitchen window because its pot was on top of a chair. Astro boy welcomed its arrival with the nonchalance of one who knew it always would be.

I was never so glad to see a flower in my life.


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