By Ariel Casey, Summer 2012 Editorial Intern
Being the “not so delicate” woman that I am makes choosing and identifying myself with a flower quite an interesting task. As I began my search I realized there was one glorious flower that kept coming to mind, the sunflower. I’ve always been keen on utility rather than beauty, but with this particular ray of sunshine, I get both.
Native Americans used the sunflower to cook, to build, and to make body paint and medicine. Because I am of Cherokee descent, the significance of the sunflower to early American cultures is special to me.
Another more playful reason I love this flower is the fact that sunflower seeds are one of my very favorite snacks. I started eating the seeds when I was a little girl. I remember my brother, seven years my senior, teaching me how to crack the shells and eat only the seed inside. Being the little devil he was, he once told me that I was going to grow a sunflower in my tummy because I had accidentally eaten the seed whole, shell and all.
The final quality that really gets me about the sunflower is its stature. Growing from the ground straight up towards the sun is the stalk—strong and coarse. The texture, not smooth but not thorny either, is just rough enough to ward off the insects that seek to harm it. Next are the petals, so bright and beaming, just screaming, “Smile! My shining face alone is something to be cheerful about!” Last is the eye of the flower, typically dawning a dark patch. It’s just enough contrast to make the petals pop and just rich enough to produce a tasty crop.
The funny thing about this whole ordeal is that right after I decided the sunflower was for me, I took the “What flower are you?” quiz on the flower website and what do you know – I, apparently, am a sunflower!