“Spring and Fall: To a young child”
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Initially I was disappointed when I arrived at this storm-decimated field of sunflowers. I drove by it only two weeks ago and it was an ocean of orange sunshine. I wanted to venture into this world and bask, for it is also my secret happy place inside my head where I go when I am anxious or blue.

With a collapsed plan, I approached the field with my camera, wondering if there was anything worthy of capturing. As I began snapping away at the fallen and broken blooms, my mind relaxed and I started to discover beauty in the condition of the plants. I remembered the poem “Spring and Fall: To a young child,” and realized that we can cry over things falling apart and leaving us, but that we must embrace these experiences as unavoidable parts of life and move forward. Sunflowers are annuals that die each year and come back through seeding. This realization gave me hope: I will find another field next year.

I found this trip to be cathartic. I was able to acknowledge, process, and channel my own troubled emotions and thoughts. I decided to share this in my blog because students journey through a maelstrom of life experiences, and it is important for them to have outlets for expressing themselves and making sense of their lives. Writing and art are supreme vehicles for this.