I’d recently traveled throughout the South of France. Van Gough made the ancient town of Arles famous with his paintings of sunflowers, and my husband and I rented bicycles and rode through the countryside, gazing over entire fields of the gorgeous flowers following the path of the sun. My favorite memory was biking near the old fortress and castle of Carcassonne. I don’t know how many pictures I took, gazing at the castle across fields of sunflowers in full bloom. Gorgeous.
So, when we got home, I planted those memories all around my house. They grew up quickly in the hot sun, and I thought of France every day I went outside. I never even considered they would attract bees, yellow jackets and wasps.
My neighbor has three children and a dog who feel free to play in everyone’s yard, especially mine. She marched over that summer, and informed me that I needed to remove all the sunflowers. “They’re attracting bees, and that’s dangerous for my kids.” I sweetly reminded her that her children didn’t need to play in my yard, after all. The bees weren’t bothering us. She harrumphed and marched back home.
The man who reads our meter was a little harder to ignore. He has been upset, because our utility company hasn’t invested in the new gadgets that allow him to read everyone’s meter from his car as he drives by. He still has to get out and tramp through everyone’s yards, reading their meters by hand. I’ve kept the meter weed-free, as I’m supposed to, and the sunflowers weren’t planted in front of it, but I was outside when he came by. It turns out the poor man is allergic to bees, and he didn’t appreciate the beauty my sunflowers had to offer as much as he feared being stung. He tersely asked me if I could do anything to get rid of bees.
So, my beautiful sunflowers, memories of my trip to France, were becoming a nuisance. Well, not the flowers themselves, of course, but the insects they attracted. I still held out, though, because of what they meant to me. Then, my husband found a couple of holes in our siding, with bees coming in and out of them. Apparently, a hive had been built in our walls, and the only way we could get rid of the bees was to cut a part of the siding away and have them removed professionally.
My yard is now sunflower-free, but my loving husband buys me a few every week to place inside my home. I keep my memories of France, and my neighbor, meter-man, and husband are much happier.