Before cell phones, internet & Pinterest, my main resources for painting flowers, short of a real bouquet of flowers, and flowers from my own garden, was a camera and good old-fashioned picture books found at the local Campbell library. Although these tools assisted me for years and years, my lifelong dream of traveling to Tuscany and taking my own photos of fields of Tuscan sunflowers, hillside vineyards, old abandoned villas, the food, the wine, the people, the endless hillside vineyards, the Tuscan blue skies, the 1000-year-old churches and the list goes on. The fantasy of this adventure never left my side and almost haunted me with longing for years and years.
In 2007 my Mom and Dad surprised us kids with a trip to Tuscany to celebrate their 5oth Wedding Anniversary. I was beside myself with excitement! Perhaps my sunflower field of dreams would come true.
My anticipation to see their glory was like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning! As each day went by, I would look for the first sunflower to burst open, and each day, the anticipation killed me. Finally, we asked one of the local shop owners, “Quando sono i girasoli a venire?” (“When are the sunflowers coming?”) He turned to the calendar, lifted the page & pointed to July 2nd. My heart deflated like a balloon pricked with a sharp needle. We were leaving at the end of June and my dream was fading away.
But I never gave up. Every day I looked out the window to see if the sunflowers had greeted the morning sky. And each day they just weren’t ready to be born. When just 3 days before we were leaving Italy, my sister-in-law and brother ran into the villa with excitement that they saw fields and fields of sunflowers all along the highway, I looked up at Steve and he knew we would be going on a road trip, chasing my sunflower dream.
We traveled for miles & miles, and to my surprise, these bursting, glorious explosions of sun-filled surprise sprinkled the sides of the highway for miles on end. Happiness reined my world, but to my shock, the future would hold the dreams beyond all dreams.
The day before we were leaving to go home, a beautiful field of sunflowers blossomed below; bursting with happiness, I went down to the field and took close ups of field, the inspiration behind “The Gift of the Sunflower” was born.