Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunflowers By Leland Dirks

Sunflowers: Photos, Facts, and Fictions

 By Leland Dirks

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman 

As summer comes to an end and fall approaches, I find comfort during the seasonal transition with reading. I was pleased to learn on Facebook that Leland had written a new book. Once again the author has warmed up this reader from the inside out with his heartwarming short stories and collection of photos, facts, and poetry on Sunflowers.

Photo Credit Leland Dirks
Photo Via Author

I was hooked right from the start as the author shared his memories of growing up on the plains and his relationship with his grandmother. The emotions are further developed as the author uses words and imagery within his fiction. For example the line, 

“Grandma taught me to love the sunflowers when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Her driveway was lined with them and just about made up for the cockleburs that got stuck in my clothes and feet and had to be removed one by one, leaving a bunch of stickers behind.” 

cast the friendliness of not only the scene but the emotions that will turn your heart toward the sunshine. It is theses pauses between the fictional stories, shared wisdom from Native Americans and tales from Greek mythology that leave one to ponder how we interact with nature and humankind.

 Photo Credit: Beki The Rusted Chain

My favorite short was Grandma’s Funeral.” I felt a personal connection as grandma stated, 

 “life was like that, too. We spend too much time looking at the big things and miss the tiny things of joy. A mistake, she said, because there were so many more tiny things than big things.” 

Photo Credit: Leland Dirks

  “To Climb a Mountain.” That ending left me examining not only hurtful actions that I have received but my own “weeds” of how careless words can leave an emotional mark on another. In addition, the short story, "Sunflowers and Ants" teaches on the importance of respect and values.
Yet, my heart filled with empathy for the young boy in the short,

I learned the sunflower’s history circumnavigates the world with tales from Russia’s Peter the Great and his travels to the simplicity of the Mennonites. Moreover, I learned there are many uses of the seeds, stalks, and petals for natural remedies. I did not know that the sunflower can extract toxins and was used after both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. I also smiled at the idea of creating the recipes included in this book. What a splendid gift idea for a friend, a jar of “sunbutter” and a copy of this book.

Photo Credit: Teri Argo Photography

"Ah, Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller's journal done;
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!"
 ― William Blake

I highly recommend Sunflowers: Photos, Facts, and Fictions by Leland Dirks. His stories are tightly woven with emotion and goodness. Just like “a sunflower under your pillow will permit you to know the truth of any matter,” a book by Leland will resonate inside the heart.


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