Summer’s End: Death of a Sunflower, Sunny Jim

My F.A.B. Husband came into my study yesterday afternoon, with his arms outstretched, indicating that he was in need of a hug. His woebegone expression had my heart jumping, my mind racing to what could have possibly caused this unusual display. I racked my brains, but I had nothing. Not that I had no brain, just no ideas. Although, of course, there are many times when I feel like I have no brain, but this wasn’t one of those times.

‘What’s up?’ I ventured, gently, not wishing to cause further emotional trauma. ‘What’s making you sad?’ I enquired judiciously.

‘It’s died!’ he exclaimed, with a greater degree of animation than I had been expecting, frankly. The concern was still etched upon his face though so my next question, though predictable, was in a somewhat puzzled tone of voice.

‘My sunflower!’ he wailed, and taking me by the hand he led me to Merlin, the family room door that leads out onto the garden. All seven of the doors to the Outside World from our home have special names, because I don’t want burglars to know which key is which if I were ever to lose them and I’m guessing that having slightly odd names on the tags would confuse your average sneakthief more than labels saying ‘front door’, ‘back door’, etc might. For the record, their names are ‘Frankie’ and ‘Bennie’ (that’s pretty obvious though, right?), ‘Uther’, ‘Merlin’ and ‘Arthur’ for the family room doors and the door to my Art studio (I was on a magical theme… bear with me!) and finally ‘Gary’ and ‘Dave’ for the garage and the door to the Man Cupboard. Well, it makes sense to me!

The wailing was accompanied by a rather dramatic raising of his arm, drawing my eye along its full length, right to the tip of his pointing finger. I followed the direction of the guiding digit and realised immediately what had happened. We’d been warned of a mighty storm that would be raging all day on Sunday, blowing itself in from the North Atlantic. The weather forecasters have had this gleeful glint at every bulletin for the past forty-eight hours as they assured us of the inevitability of this particular precipitation and accompanying gale force winds. In reality it had been a tad breezy, but when compared to Hong Kong typhoons, I had to smile wanly at the timidity of Mother Nature this time.

It had indeed been windy enough to knock over the pride of my F.A.B. hubby’s garden – Sunny Jim.

R.I.P Sunny Jim
R.I.P Sunny Jim

This sunflower had been putting an enormous amount of energy into growing as tall as possible at the cost of flowering much later than all of its contemporaries. About two weeks passed between when all the other sunflowers had burst forth and then faded away before this one finally followed suit and brazenly erupted to face the sun at the beginning of September. He was indeed glorious (I blogged about it at the time) and for the past two weeks has provided us with a joyous beam every time we look to the bottom of the garden to see the giant smiling sunshine stooge, rampantly regaling succour from the Sun, producing not only the giant head visible from the kitchen window, at least a hundred feet away, but also managing to pop out seven more flower-heads to keep himself company.

When I stumbled down to make porridge at 6:30am this morning, my automatic glance to the spot where it had thrived was brought up sharpish – he was no longer there. And the bite in the breeze today tells me that summer is indeed over. But we still have our memories…


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