Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Live Life Like Sunflowers in the Rain

 Reminders that life is, and can be, good.  

I took a moment to walk outside (in the rain) with the camera and photograph the sunflowers that I planted beside my wooden shed.  What cheery companions these flowers are!  One day I would like to plant a whole boarder of them, maybe a hundred or so plants.  Imagine that ... a supernova of suns!  My two tallest sunflowers are 10 feet high, and the bees love them.  I have been amazed at how well the flowers have stood up to wind and rain, and the rapidly approaching chill of autumn.  There have been light frosts in shady parts of our village some nights.

Our good friend Rhonda came to visit us recently.  I think I could describe Rhonda as being a human sunflower, in that she manages to bring sunshine with her.  She believes in dressing up in wonderful things, and makes her own clothes from garments that she buys at second hand clothing shops.  She cuts them up and re makes them, adorning them with flowers and patterns.

Someone bought a crystalline glazed pot of mine recently, and Laura offered to gift wrap it.  Laura made her own wrapping paper and did a really lovely job with coloured pencils, gold paint, and ink.  She drew some of the old pots and bottles that we have here.

It was lovely to be able to send work away presented like that.  In boring dollars and cents terms, it could be argued that taking such a lot of time over packing is probably ridiculous..., however as far as making life better goes, the time was well spent.  In fact Laura did the most valuable thing of all, she did something with joy and kindness.

In the 1980s I did some work for NZ Forest Service, doing pen and ink drawings for pamphlets, and a mural and other artwork for an information center at a Forest Park in the North Island of New Zealand.  On one of my last days there, a forestry worker took me to one side and said how lucky I was that I could do painting, because I was able to do something that would remain for many years.  He said that when he was gone, he would leave nothing behind. There would be nothing left to remember him by.  When he said this, I could see that this thought affected and troubled him greatly.  I could see it in his eyes.

What is it that we leave behind?
Is it necessary to leave anything at all?  I wonder if it is more important to bring joy to another person in this life than to create a work of art that says "I Was Here..."?

I like the attitude of people who believe in leaving things better than how they found them.  I suspect they quietly achieve more of lasting value than they can ever know.


Melissa Rohrer said...

Hello Peter,
The gift wrap was a really nice presentation.

Your thoughts on what we leave behind struck a chord with me. My most lasting and fondest memories involve words and actions, not material goods.

smartcat said...

What a lovely and charming thing to do. Exciting to get a new pot....even more so with a pretty presentation.

One of my words is ysouc......try transposing the o to after the y and you have my opinion of this word verification

Tracey Broome said...

Peter, I love this post. The wrapping paper is lovely as was the sentiment behind it. What a joyful way to live your life!

Michèle Hastings said...

such a beautiful package... almost too pretty open! i think we all leave something behind, it may be subtle but still important.

Linda Starr said...

How talented your friend is, love the clothing she makes, and the wrapping paper is soft and serene. When I lived in northern california there were sections of farmland that had fields of sunflowers and their heads were always facing the sun a real sight to see.

Growin' Granny said...

Leaving the world a better place doesn't necessarily mean leaving materials things here on earth. I leave beautiful gardens wherever I go and I share plants and seeds with friends and friends-to-be all over the world. My husband doesn't create with his hands but he was a counselor and educator and he touched many young lives. Young people that he helped decades ago show up on Facebook today and leave comments about the difference he made in their lives. We all contribute or are capable of contributing to this world in different ways.

Angie said...

Your post was food for thought ...thankyou for making me take a good look at life from another angle.

Wonderful sunflower ...I think your friend sounds a fantastic person to know.
I think that gift wrapping is beautiful and the recipient will love it ...its so special. xx

smartcat said...

And the sunflowers! We used to leave them up all winter for the birds to eat.....wonderful sight.

It looks like a Van Gogh.

Arte Cerâmica Zen said...

Sunflowers are my main source of inspiration!
Congratulations for your work!

Peter said...

Hello Melissa,
Thank you for your comment. The "words and actions" thought is very true. There are quite a number of people that I remember from long ago because of acts of kindness.

Hello Smartcat,
Meeoow..., that word verification was very apt, the blurry two word thing that they are doing now is really hard work to decipher, there are times when I think Google must employ a real (but weird) human being to make up the words, as they are too funny sometimes to have come from a computer!

Hi Tracey,
The wrapping paper was lovely, Laura does have a way of making simple things nice (she is great with little bunches of flowers too). It does seem that there are weeks when we have to put some effort into making life joyful, and the smiling faces of sunflowers do help!

Hi Michele,
I like the "subtle but still important". I was thinking of one of my Aunts as I was reading the comments. One treasured memory I have of her comes from way back when I was probably somewhere between 4 and 6 years old. She gently talked to me and gave me a fresh cool pillow for my head one night when I couldn't sleep. Simple and kind and it is still with me.

Hi Linda,
I'll tell my sunflowers about the ones in California when I greet them this morning! I think they would like some of the Californian sun, but they are very brave and cheerful what ever the weather!

Hi Growin' Granny,
Good to hear from you and welcome to my blog. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Laura would very much agree about the garden, and the happiness that can bring. How good it is that people your husband helped and taught when they were young, still keep in touch. That is really special.

Hello Angie,
Good to hear from you, I hope that you are now seeing some signs of Spring in your part of the world. I think one nice things about reading blogs is having little glimpses of life from all manner of "angles"! Be careful of any of the "angles" that you get from me, as coming as they do from New Zealand, they are almost certainly upside down by the time they get to Scotland! :)
You would definitely enjoy meeting Rhonda, and seeing her colourful creativity.

Ha Smartcat, you're back! Love Van Gogh! Regarding our sunflowers, so far our birds haven't shown much interest (but I am sure that will come later), but the bees love them.

Hi Arte Ceramica Zen,
Lovely to hear from you all the way from Brazil. Thank you for your comment, I am now enjoying looking at your lovely work on your blog.

Joe Troncale said...

I love the philosophical take on leaving things behind for the good of others rather than to stroke our own ego.
I would love to ask you a lot of questions about wood firing, but I have to get back to my day job!
Thanks for your blog!

Peter said...

Hi Joe,
Thank you for your comment on this post and on the "Wheels to Waitati" one of some time ago, it is good to hear from you and welcome to this site.

I see from both comments that you are interested in wood firing and would probably like to build a kiln one day. Do feel welcome to ask questions and keep us up to date with your progress. I hope to be wood firing again very soon, so any comments and questions regarding wood firing will be very much on topic!
Kind thoughts, Peter