I have written at length in my blog about my goals for miles walked each year. So far I have always reached my year-end goal and thus been able to rest on my laurels every December 31st.
As I’ve paired photography more and more with my treks, (as opposed to just the occasional interesting header image in my blog’s early days), along the way I even began creating goals for coveted photos of certain critters and even non-critter items.
I shared my “2020 Birdie Bucket List” with you and checked off quite a few images since that March 5th post, so we’re gettin’ there. And, after lamenting I missed the Spring Peepers back in the Springtime, I’m happy to report that recently I returned home with an image of a frog on the camera’s photo card. I had to laugh out loud when I saw that little green guy on the computer screen, as I sure don’t remember seeing him when I took that photo. I was aiming for a close-up of the invasive marsh aquatic plant known as Frogbit … well he and I were both in the right place at the right time it seems. But more about Mr. Frog later – I am hopelessly behind with cranking out blog posts as I took so many pictures this Summer. That’s a good thing. 🙂
Also on my “2020 General Photo Bucket List” was to take photos of sunflowers. They are at their peak in late August here in Southeast Michigan. Fellow bloggers Andy and Diane wrote about and took photos of expansive fields of sunflowers; fellow blogger Ruth, a Michigander like me, showed us the beautiful Teddy Bear sunflowers in her garden.
Last year, you may recall, I registered in advance to attend an annual sunflower festival in Belleville, Michigan. I’ve never been too swift as to maps and I must have great directions to take me to out-of-the-way places, or for sure I will get lost. Because weekend Fall weather can be iffy and traipsing around in a muddy farm field in the rain to view sunflowers was not my cup of tea, I upgraded to a pass for all four days of the September DeBuck’s Sunflower Festival AND the October DeBuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch Fest as well. Surely every weekend day would not be soggy, but I had it covered.
I prefer surface streets to expressway driving, especially if I’ve never been to the area, so I meticulously wrote out the Google Maps directions to get to Belleville, about a 50-mile round trip drive and way out in the boonies.
I hadn’t counted on a fork in the road and an irate guy in a pickup truck behind me, who repeatedly slammed on his horn as I paused a wee bit too long to consider whether to take the left or right fork in the road.
Naturally, I chose the wrong fork in the road.
Yep, there were two options on that bright and sunny day – left or right and I guessed wrong. It is a very rural area and soon, while tooling along the road, I discovered if anyone was outside to ask directions, they likely were toiling in the back fields. Hmm – surely someone was out tending to their late Summer fruit and veggie stands – nope, produce was attractively displayed in baskets or loose in bins. Mason jars of jams or jellies were lined up in rows on wooden shelves, the metal lids glinting in the sunshine, but their purchase was all on the honor system – you simply filled the brown paper bags provided and left your money. You could even make change if need be. Well, farmers are busy and likely don’t have time to deal with this small business venture. So, I decided to “wing it” and just relax and see where the road would take me. I had a full tank of gas, so no fears of running out of gas and ending up in a real pickle. I relaxed and rather enjoyed the ride in the country and ended up at Lower Huron Metropark (which was on my “Parks To Visit Bucket List”). Yes, so many lists – so little time.
Driving home that day, I came upon a farmer’s field close to the road. The many gardens were filled with tomatoes, beans and cukes and a smaller plot consisting of corn and tall sunflowers. I pulled over to the side of the road and decided these sunflowers would soothe my wounded feelings of map misreading, plus complement my tale about my misfortune. Granted, up close, they were a tad dilapidated from the rain, but I took photos anyway.
So, I never made it to either DeBuck’s festivals in 2019, even though I had paid in advance. It’s not like me to be frivolous like that, but I assumed I’d try again this year. I bought a paper map and planned to memorize that route. Then COVID-19 arrived. I decided I was not going to mix and mingle with any crowds during the pandemic, so I realized I needed to find something closer to home.
I put my thinking cap on.
I was still looking for a sunflower opportunity and recalled many years before, while attending Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan, as I drove along the Michigan Avenue service drive, there was a vast field filled with sunflowers. I always had my pocket camera with me in those days and though I never took a shot of that lovely scene, I kept the image in my head instead. As far as the eye could see were sunflowers, lined up like soldiers, all facing the same way, toward the sun, evoking a smile on my face, every time I saw them. The land was owned by Ford Motor Company – their world headquarters is in Dearborn and they planted the sunflower seeds every Spring and created a little greenspace along a well-traveled service drive. There was no charge to see this colorful feast for the eyes and those black oil sunflower seeds were also a feast for the birds once they had ripened.
That was many years ago and since then, the plot of land was plowed over and a building was in its place. Recently, I Googled around and discovered a news story that confirmed Ford Motor Company still planted those seeds and this massive, 20-acre sunflower field could be found in a different location. So, I was ready – surely I could not get lost going to a City I’d been to hundreds of times throughout the years.
Construction … here, there and everywhere.
There are currently 200 ongoing construction projects in Michigan. I know that fact as 155 of them were temporarily suspended for the Labor Day holiday. Although Dearborn is a big city, unfortunately there were three big construction projects, all which I would encounter, should I choose to visit Ford’s sunflower fields.
So, should I stay or should I go?
I decided to put on my big girl panties and just grin and bear it; I mean, how bad could it be on a very early, hot and humid Sunday morning? I figured the sunflowers should reach my shoulders and would be growing so close together that I’d best wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt in case of any creepy crawlies or bees as I walked through. Not the best day for that clothes combo due to the heat, but nevertheless that is what I donned. Thankfully, I wore a sleeveless tee-shirt under the shirt, so I could remove it after I left the sunflower field.
I headed to Michigan Avenue and Mercury Drive – Michigan Avenue is a busy thoroughfare, more so with only one lane open and a portion of the Southfield Expressway was closed and dumping traffic onto this already-busy street. To make matters worse, free COVID screening from your car was at the Henry Ford Centennial Library right across the street. Grrr. I regretted my decision as cars zoomed past me as I drove along, watching traffic, orange construction cones and barrels, the signage and all the while expecting to see yellow sunflower heads bobbing in the distance.
Well, you’ve got to be kidding me!
Finally, patience wearing thin, I arrived at the destination. I parked at Henry Ford Elementary School and looked across the street – this is what I saw.
“I drove through all that construction for this?” Those were the first words out of my mouth (along with a few words that I won’t mention in this post). I’m assuming the sunflowers won’t be ripe until October and no, I’m not returning.
I took the few pictures above and noted, as you probably did, the “Private Property – No Trespassing” sign as well. I scurried back to the car, grumbling all the way, but, I was not to be deterred – a quick trip to a plot of land that is filled with sunflowers gave me a smile as big as these beauties. So where did I go to get these photos? A Speedy gas station on the corner of Dix-Toledo Road and Northline Road – every year the owner plants sunflowers, corn and pumpkins and when I go to Heritage Park I see this colorful display during the growing season. Look at the miles and aggravation I could have spared myself!!
I’ve made an executive decision – next year, I’m growing my own sunflowers!