Today is the first day of school around here, which signals a proverbial end to summer for many people. Summer is certainly not over for us. We don’t have kids in school yet and so we get to enjoy the wiles of this season for a bit longer. And if these slightly cooler temperatures we’ve been enjoying the last few days could hang around through August, then I might not wish for Fall too hard.
Sunflowers are summer’s golden flag waving in the remainder of the season as they bloom for an elusive few weeks. No doubt they are mostly withered and gone by now, but acres of sunflowers are planted bi-annually at Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area near Ijams. Nearly 70 acres to be exact and catching a glimpse of the stately beauties in full bloom worshiping the summer sun is an even more elusive task. Fields upon fields of sunflowers can be found just past Ijams Nature Park in South Knoxville between the bend in the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers. But the TWRA only plants the sunflower fields every other year as part of a crop rotation plan to maintain soil fertility and control pests. The large sunflower fields won’t be planted again until 2019. To find them, drive past Ijams straight on until you see the signs, hook a left to the parking lot and say a prayer you’ll find a spot because there is supposed to be no parking elsewhere and signs are now posted to prevent parking along the road. We recommend getting there as early as you can. Most photographers looking for a desirable spot to capture portraits with a enviable natural back drop get there as the sun is rising to set up shop.
The fields were originally planted more than 15 years ago to attract doves, bees and butterflies. This year they definitely attracted their fair share of people too! On July 8th TWRA also hosted the second Sunflower Festival to celebrate the return of the sunflowers and provide nature education. We were out of town that weekend, but we still managed to load up the baby and head to the Forks twice before the plants all withered. By the second weekend in July, only a couple of the fields remained picture worthy. The rest had already started to hang their heads.
Attempts at capturing a good photo of the two of us seems to be a bit comical with the expressions we both make. I can’t help but laugh. He’s my kid, that’s for sure. There’s no denying it.
I seem to handle photographing others and inanimate objects a bit better, thankfully. Now you see why I prefer to stay behind the camera as much as possible. 😉
Even without the sunflower fields in bloom, the Forks of the River is a great place to get outdoors and enjoy a jog or just a leisurely stroll. The paths are easy to maneuver and the area along the river is even paved.
What is it about sunflowers that make you happy? You can’t help but smile when you gaze upon their giant almost personified blooms.
If you didn’t catch a glimpse of these beauts this year, be sure to mark it on your calendar for the summer of 2019 around late June to mid July. By then, we will have a 2 1/2 year old toddling around with us! Yikes!