It is mid-afternoon, and all the sunflowers are facing east. The farmer says this year has been so dry, the plants conserve scarce energy by not turning to face the sun.
The same farmer is taking his parents this week to the Wisconsin State Fair to receive a Sesquicentennial Farm Award; their farm has been in the family for 150 years. Family farms still exist hereabouts. Some supplement dwindling agricultural income by offering hayrides, corn mazes, pick-your-own berry patches, off-season boat and RV storage, snowplow and landscaping services, or car detailing in an old barn.
After months of national and personal crises, many people are feeling resources stretched thin. Resilience is down. There’s a dearth of emotional vitality. What do sunflowers and family farmers model for how to keep going when we start to run dry? Conserve energy with a break from a practice you normally did. Try something new with resources you already have. Hold on to what’s essential and add or subtract around the edges.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.