I captured this field of sunflowers a few weeks ago, just a day or two before I left for my last minute visit to the states. I knew if I didn't take the time then, by the time I'd returned (only 10 days later) the field would already be dried up, the heads of the flowers rich with seeds and ready to be turned into oil.
Sunflower fields abound here in Le Marche. It is one of the tell-tale signs of summer, and I welcome it every year. It means June is here, and, even as it begins to fade in July, you'll turn a corner and find late-bloomers taking up a whole stretch of land. If I miss a summer in Italy, oftentimes I miss most those flowers, and the poppies too, that spring up along the roadside, filling in fields from mid-May on, a red carpet to welcome in the summer.
This summer has been a different one. It has been blessed with happy surprises: a visit from a brand-new friend, Florence, a friend of my aunt's who came to Italy for just a few short days and was quickly introduced to the magic of early June in Macerata. Her visit even included a weekend away in Rome for all of us, me driving half the way there, with a stop over in Spoleto along the way. I also managed a trip to Bologna to visit Cyndi, go shopping, eat Greek food, and explore the city as the rain poured down around us. Running in the rain has never been quite so fun, jumping from one portico to another, dashing down long stretches of road as the rain drenched us. Bologna is a beautiful city, glistening and bright, when it rains.
But the trip back to the states was not expected, and it was definitely no vacation. One of the reasons it was hard was because of the death of my grandmother. My brother talks about her life and lessons on his blog, and he says it well. She passed away the day before my flight left for the states, on June 17th. She is very much missed. From the simple things--the trips to Steak n Shake that we'd take every time I was in town--to the deeper life lessons about family and place, she taught me a lot, and she was a wonderful grandmother. We miss you, grandma, and we love you very much.