Sunflowers among the weeds...International Bereaved Mother's Day 05/05/19

Sunday, May 5th is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. I’ve done blog posts in the past, and after spending some time editing sunflowers that I happened upon here locally, I saw an opportunity to share in part what I saw while photographing these beauties.

Sunflower season here in Solano and Yolo Counties will be sometime in June, and yet I was able to find a few springing up in a field where they were last year. Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. I’ve added a few fun facts about them just to give you an understanding of how amazing they are. Sunflowers are used to demonstrate a mathematical term called a Fibonacci sequence. You can also see this sequence in artichokes and cauliflowers. While reading about this sequence in sunflowers researchers have found that the patterns can be inconsistent in sunflowers and quoting the article “real life is messy.” This is a truth that is lived out daily in the life of a bereaved parent and when speaking about loss and grief. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/sunflowers-show-complex-fibonacci-sequences It is the only flower to have the word “flower” in its name. Sunflower removes toxins and is a natural decontaminator of soil. They have been used to clean up dirt at some of the biggest environments disasters, including Chernobyl and Fukushima. Sunflowers are native to the Americas. Some of these facts come from this article. https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-sunflowers-3972329 As you might now see sunflowers have a medicinal quality to them. They have been used to heal and remove toxins from soil. As I photographed these beautiful flowers, I was struck by the fact that even though they were growing among weeds, they thrived. I saw a few bees although they seemed to be moving slowly and possibly dying. So much about these flowers lead me to see myself and other bereaved mothers the same way.

These flowers were strong. Even though the weeds had dropped some of the seeds to strike down these flowers they still stood firm...strong almost like flower sentinels. They’re looking for the sun and following its course across the sky. They are beautiful. Some of their petals hidden from the sun but just as yellow and brilliant as the noonday sun. Some of these beauties had yet to open, and many of them winking so to speak as only a few of their petals had started to open.

This blog goes out to all of you who mourn the loss of your child/ren. You inspire me. Even amid your loss, you continue to move towards health. You still remind me that you are bright sunflower standing firm in your memories of your child/ren. You are learning that your loss has defined for you those things that are toxic and you move towards removing them from your path. Some of you are still trying to figure out what you need and yet, you persevere opening up just a few of your petals as you follow your path. The loss of your child will continue to shape each move you make. It will define who you are and why you do what you do. I pray that you continue to remain strong and resilient. Standing tall like a sunflower.

Tower Bridge Dinner

Earlier in September, I was asked to do photography for the Farm to Fork Dinner event on the Tower Bridge. It is always exciting to work with Savory Cafe, and I was again asked to assist them this year with photography. My time spent with Juan, Kristin and Toby is always a blessing to me. Their teamwork, love for the community, and work ethic are something to admire. They are true community leaders, and I'm grateful for their friendship. In addition to working with Savory Cafe, I did product photography for the Capay Valley Ranches. CVR produces premium olive oil, nuts, and honey and they partnered with Visit Sacramento to provide olive oil for this event. To capture both parts of this event, that of restauranteur and product provider was exciting as it gives a full picture of what makes this day so incredible.

This year I began at a Meet and Greet for renowned Chef Jeremiah Tower at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel. Savory Cafe chef Toby Barajas was invited to meet Chef Jeremiah along with several other special guests. While waiting for Toby to arrive, I was able to get a quick photo with Denise Reinnoldt and her daughter Lauren with Jeremiah. Denise is the owner of Capay Valley Ranches, and it was great to connect with her before going to the dinner on the bridge. Just before Chef Jeremiah left to prepare for his time with all of the chefs preparing for the dinner, he graciously stopped and allowed me to get a photo with Toby. I then was off to the bridge to capture meal prep for the evening.

I arrived at the commissary kitchen to find Kristin working away preparing for the appetizer that Savory was providing for the meal. What I enjoy the most of about participating at this end of an event like this is the amount of collaborating and teamwork among all of the restaurants. An event like this can't come together without this type of effort on everyone's part. For me, it's the best part of this evening. I enjoy watching people connect and have fun while serving the community. I appreciate the various gifts and talents each person brings to present each course. But the part that is the best is that we live in such an agriculturally productive region and all of the farmers and ranchers who bring their unique piece to the menu. I had the pleasure to represent Capay Valley Ranches and the unique part they played as product sponsor and the provider of olive oil for the dishes that were prepared by the chefs.

It was a day celebrating all the richness, and bounty of the region in and around Sacramento. Thank you, Juan Barajas, Kristin, and Toby for this fun opportunity and Capay Valley Ranches and Denise Reinnoldt. Such a fabulous day celebrating what our various cities bring to the Farm to Fork way of life.

The link below is from the 2017 Tower Bridge Dinner.

https://www.dawnkincadephotography.com/my-adventures/2017/9/27/tower-bridge-dinner-2017-with-savory-cafe

Sunflowers and what they're teaching me...

We are just a few weeks away from the start of Fall. It’s hard to imagine that when we have days that the temperature is close to 100 degrees but by the ticking of time the calendar inches closer to the date that signifies to us that cooler weather and falling leaves is around the corner. There is something that always tugs in me as we say so long to summer and welcome the coming of fall. I’m kinda a big fan of most of the seasons but fall and spring are usually my favorites. Spring as it brings the beauty of new birth after a winter of loss. Summer is filled with long days in the sun and warm evenings of smooth conversations. Fall brings with it the vibrant changes in nature and for me it was always a time to plan for significant milestones as it is my birthday season and the birth dates for my boys. 

Much of the joy and excitement of fall has changed for me since Evan’s death. There is almost this resistance/hesitance to slow down the movement of time. I can’t really explain it other than fall was always such a great season for me but I have sustain such a significant amount of loss during this season I want to stay parked in summer indefinitly. The reason being is maybe not so obvious to most but summer is easier. There are no time constraints. The days are longer the nights are shorter and the sunflowers are blooming. All of it doesn’t remind me that soon you will need to start walking towards fall. Because fall holds with its beauty a measure of pain. 

This year in my travels the process of this beauty for ashes was much more evident for me as I watched the transformation of my beloved sunflowers. If you follow me even a little you know I start my search for sunflowers in early May as they are just starting the growing season here locally. I try hard to extend my watch through the summer but this year I went out to some of the fields as they were dying. The significance of the dying process for sunflowers is just as important as the beauty they bring to us as we drive by the fields. It permitted me to be fully part of the loss of these flowers and to understand the great impact they have in their beauty and in their dying. 

Today, September 9th. 2018,  which is 22 months since Evan's death and is a few months shy of what would be his 28th birthday. Alex and I will celebrate our birthdays next month. The Earth will keep spinning. The trees will change and days will get shorter. But what I wonder does the significance of Evan’s life that was so vibrant when he was living continue in his dying?? Does the impact he made continue even though he isn’t here to have his voice heard? As I ponder those things I think of the beautiful sunflowers.  

https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/yolo-grows-sunflower-seeds-for-the-world/

Giving Comfort

The month of June has zipped by and I am finally able to stop and catch my breath. In the process of me catching my breath I have also found that the busyness has kept me from the full extent of my sadness. I've learned to navigate this part of my life as the spaces that I inhabit don't always allow me the opportunity to go there. I will hear a song, see a photo or just be reminiscing of moments I've experienced that bring me to the brick wall that is my grief. It stops me and as I'm shaking off the fact that I've run full force into it...it looks at me unshaken and with not a blemish that I have hit it and all the while I'm left beaten and battered trying desperately to get my balance and footing. Some times it is much more subtle...not as much of an assault but more sly...in the midst of great laughter and fun it sneaks in and crumbles me to a sentence I use often..."a bucket of tears". 

This month I've felt like I was being taking on a ride that I thought would be fun. It had all the makings of good times and loads of happy moments but for me, in this season I can't help but think of the missed moments I will not have. I know...bummer but this is my journey and it is at times very much a bummer. I miss seeing my son with a group of his friends as they celebrate a great accomplishment of one of their own. I reminisce about what his response would be....and think about just how happy he would be for this dear friend. I think often of those who miss him but are really not sure what to do or what to say and I wonder...What does a 20-something do with their grief? I think of some of the dearest people I know that as they look at me from across a room and wonder about this journey they are on with me as they can't fathom the depth of my sorrow but are walking with me. I think of the many near and far who reach out almost daily with texts, Facebook messages, hugs and love. 

As I sat in church today and listened to our pastor lead worship and preach from the psalms. The message from Psalm 142 as David is hiding out from those who would want to capture and destroy him. I was brought to tears thinking of not only my own heartache but that of my husband and son too. As I am weeping in church as his message and worship are striking a cord I receive this text from a dear friend of Evan's~"Hi my sweet Dawn. I am thinking of you now and missing Evan so much. Crying out to God (while literally crying haha) and I just take this moment to honor him and wanted to tell you he is on my heart so much and so are you. I know God is showing us something so big right now, I hope to grasp it soon so I won't be so sad. Love you so much". As I watched as my own pastor can't proceed with his message as he too thinks of the things that his sheep are going through and like any shepherd his heart is turned towards them. As I get a hug from a friend who knows me and knows my story her hug is so close I can hear the beat of her heart...to a sweet new friend who only knows me on social media but comes over and holds me...no word are necessary...as I weep. Then I think of the beautiful sunset last night among my sunflower fields that I believe are God's gift to me...cause those faces are just the best thing in all the world. I know that all of this and more are part of my journey. Part of the steps I walk in my healing. That the tears that I cry don't go unseen. That God because of His great love for us sends these, that are giving comfort, as only the God of the universe can do. 

Chasing Sunflowers....

Many times when I am out photographing I don't always realize what I have truly captured until I see it through the process of culling and editing. It is during this process that photographs really speak to my soul. Nearly every time I’m editing I am moved to tears as I see what the Creator has allowed me to capture. Creation has always, for me, spoken of the existence of Christ. Even before I came to know Him the sound of the wind blowing, the blue of the sky, the beauty in a flowers, the moon and the stars...all of it moved me. 

Tonight I ended my evening in Davis and stopped just before sunset at the sunflower field off of Pedrick Road. Oh so many sunflowers all blowing in the wind. Some with large faces, some with medium faces, some with dried up faces, some tall, some small, some short and some just beginning to get ready to open. What I was struck by was how all of them....in each stage of  growth was encouraging the other to grow, to dance, to sprout. I know it seems funny but that is what I saw...it is this beautiful dance of encouragement......to shine their faces on all of the different stages and say..."Come on...you can do it" "You are so beautiful...just keep growing!". Oh how lovely are the faces of those sunflowers. The comfort even of knowing that even the ones that are dying are going to be used for a greater purpose. It was really lovely. 

It made think of each of us....what stage of growth are we in? Can you call out with your beautiful face and be like these sunflowers? Come on...you can do it!! 

"Cafe Terrace at Night" Wedding

I had the pleasure and honor of capturing the wedding of Matt and Leandra Freese. Leandra's love for color and sunflowers with Matt's attention to detail was a beautiful combination for this lovely outdoor wedding on the cusp of summer solstice and the full moon. Expressions of Van Gogh's famous art could be seen on each table and the backdrop of china blue sheers with twinkle light made the evening magical for these two. Matt and Leandra made a point to stop at every table to greet their guests. It was a special touch the I know made everyone feel honored. Dancing and singing ended the evening on a high note as the couple left through a line of friends and family sending them on their way to their new home.

Strawberry Moon 2016

Today marks not only the beginning of summer but a rare occurrence that hasn't happened since 1967. Two astronomical phenomena will occur at the same time. This evening's "strawberry" full moon will occur at the same time as the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. EarthSky.org said that a full moon on a summer solstice is a rare event, and we will not see another until June 21, 2062. As I will not be here in June of 2062...I have left this gallery here for those who will come after me. Enjoy!

The photos are a little fuzzy as there was so much heat rising from the earth.