Sunshine and Sunflowers

I’ve had a busy several days.

I was in Woodland, California (Yolo County – north of Sacramento) shooting at/for/with Muller Ranch.

Muller Ranch is HUGE and they grow lots of different things like cucumbers, peppers, olives, nuts …

And sunflowers.

Colin Muller and I had been working on my visit for awhile.

Everything was dependent on the crops … which are, of course, dependent on the weather and other variables.

When he contacted me and said, “Now!” I knew I only had a short window to work with.

So, last Sunday, I drove seven and a half hours up the Central Valley (the most boring drive on earth!) and arrived in the late afternoon.

After checking into my hotel, I decided I’d venture to the town of Dixon because I heard they also had sunflowers blooming.

Dixon was about a twenty minute drive from my hotel.

(I wasn’t scheduled to be at Muller Ranch until the following morning, Monday.)

I had visions of sunsets over sunflower fields, but the reality on Sunday evening was much different.

I found Dixon easily enough, but I got lost in an orchard in search of the sunflowers.

(Getting lost is my specialty.  I have no sense of direction and GPS does not understand when you search for “sunflowers.”)

Eventually, I found some sunflower fields and they were beautiful.

Each individual flower seemed almost human-like with its own, very distinct, personality.

Sunflower in Dixon, CA

Once I was in the presence of sunflowers, I remembered something I learned as a child.

Sunflowers always turn their heads towards the sun.

That means, without a lot of photoshopping, it isn’t generally possible to catch the sun setting BEHIND their “faces.”

I mean, I did see some flowers that were a little slower to turn than others, but you aren’t going to see an entire field ignoring the sun.

Before I got many photos in Dixon, I had a mishap of epic proportions.

With my camera in hand, I walked toward the fields.

And, quite suddenly, I SANK waist deep into quicksand.

The speed, and the strength of the suction … it was scary.

I wasn’t sure I could get out and what if I sank forever?

Oh, and by the way, it turned out to be MANURE not quicksand.

My new (pretty expensive!) running shoes actually got sucked right off my feet – never to be seen again.

One sock went with them … the other, clung stubbornly to my left foot.

I had to fight my way out of the muddy, manure-filled, trench – and it was not easy!

I finally got to dry ground, my feet now filled with sharp stickers and painful burrs, and my body covered in filth.

(Yes, even my arm brace and my camera had manure on them … although, of course, I held the camera up high so it was never fully submerged.)

Right then an old red pickup truck stopped by with an old-man farmer in it.

He had a long white beard and he peered at The Spectacle I Had Become from his truck.

(It wasn’t his sunflower field; he was just passing by.)

He asked if I was okay.

He informed me “You should stay away from the trenches.  They look dry on top, but as you found out they’re not.  They’re very dangerous.”

I nodded, as I stood barefoot in a field of sharp stickers, while dripping mud and manure everywhere.

(If I had known it was a TRENCH, I wouldn’t have stood on it!)

Eventually, after staring at my Manure Self for awhile longer, he drove away.

Fortunately, I had a roll of paper towels in my car.

I scraped off as much filth from my body as I could.

Then I climbed in my car, drove 20 minutes back to my hotel, and humiliated myself walking through the lobby and back to my room.

Filth © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

This was as cleaned up as I could get with just paper towels and a bottle of water.  Taken just before I hopped in the shower.

After my shower, and a change of clothes, I needed to buy shoes.

I had only brought one pair because I was only scheduled to shoot one day at the ranch.

I was in a bit of a panic about meeting Colin Muller in person for the first time the next day … with no shoes!!

I ended up driving to WalMart, and shopping for five dollar sneakers while barefoot.

(No one in WalMart even noticed I had no shoes on!!)

Things went much smoother for my scheduled shoot on Monday.

Thank goodness!

I’ll share some of those photos with you tomorrow, or on Monday at the latest.

6 Responses to “Sunshine and Sunflowers”

  1. Jenny

    Oh my!!! 😀

    Glad you made it out of the trench without too much harm to yourself or the camera. Made for a good story!

    The farm field we used to live across from in MN planted sunflowers one year – it was amazing! LOVED it! Except that was ALSO the summer our mini horse and mini donkey escaped and led me on a chase down the middle of the 2 lane highway and then veered off INTO the Sunflower field. They were MINI sized… and decided the sunflowers were an awesome place to play hide and seek…on the hottest day we had that year! Grr…..
    Slightly jaded memory of those sunflowers but LOVE pictures of them! Excited you got the opportunity to do the shoot.


    • Suzanne

      I can’t imagine chasing anything through those fields. The flowers are planted so close together. That must have been a nightmare. The flowers are gorgeous though – so beautiful!

  2. Denise

    Really????? Do these things only happen when you’re alone? Meaning, do you heed the advice of others? Thank goodness Fred wasn’t with you or he might be lost forever in the muck and the mire. Do not go out into fields alone. Never go anywhere with one pair of shoes. Do not go out into fields alone. Did I already say that? Seriously though….I hope you got the shots you wanted. I have seen lots of photos of Muller Ranch on Instagram. Probably the best sunflower field anywhere! Are you going to tell your doctors what you did?

    • Suzanne

      Clearly, I grew up on a beach and not on a farm or ranch. It was too hot for Fred, but I think he would have sensed the moisture and steered me away. He’s smart like that. I didn’t know trenches even existed. Muller Ranch is HUGE and amazing, and I wish I’d had more time there. It was a pleasure to work with Colin (owner). Paul Newman knew what I did instantly because he follows me on SnapChat. I think I might accidentally forget to tell my surgeons what happened. Paul Newman helped calm my arm down yesterday with some of his magic. I was quite sore … it took work to get out of that trench!

  3. Gina

    Oh my, Suzanne! What a picture you painted with this story!! You tell it with a bit of humor, but I’m sorry that it was frightening and dangerous. So thankful you are alright.

    • Suzanne

      Thank you.
      It was frightening for a moment, but when I realized I couldn’t sink any further I focused on getting out and cleaning up. Such an adventure!


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