It’s been many weeks since I last wrote a post on this blog. Summer slipped past and now I am looking at the last of the leaves before they leave the trees completely bare. It’s November, a chilly and drizzly autumn day, which has its own unmistakable charm. Why did it all run away so fast? Probably because I am expecting twins and I am still wondering how this could have happened!
The first trimester (which I’ll definitely write about soon in another post) was one of the most difficult periods for me. It was totally incomparable to the beginning of my first pregnancy with Lucas. I had no energy at all, and unfortunately experienced heavy nausea all the way through. Thank God it’s over now and I’m back to myself again, finally entering my second trimester!
As I say, everything passed so fast during my first trimester. Not long ago there were just the three of us – or five if you count our doggies – and our last trip as a threesome (or so I thought at the time) was to pick sunflowers on Hayling Island at Stoke Fruit Farm. When I look back at our photos, they look so sunny, almost enough to warm up this November day!
Each season we act out our family traditions, but recently I realised that we actually don’t have any particular custom to connect us to the wonderful period at the end of the summer or to harvesttime. After searching online, I found an amazing-looking farm with sunflower and corn fields. And what could be more fun for our two-year-old son than seeing real tractors and busy bumblebees, and running through a sunflower field with his parents?
So, one weekend we made the trip to Hayling Island, which is a unique place in Hampshire on the south coast of England, dotted with moored white boats. Of course, we weren’t alone in choosing to visit the farm on a sunny afternoon – there were many other families with children too. The entrance is beautifully decorated with sunflowers and indeed, what I love about Stoke Fruit Farm and their sunflower fields is how perfectly everything is prepared, how amazing the place looks, and how family-friendly it is! There are refreshments, too, in the form of a snack bar and even a gin bar!
Of course, our two-year-old, Lucas, happily ran to a red tractor when he spotted it and wanted to drive it. He literally grabbed the wheel and didn’t want to let it go! Fortunately, for a small price you can rent a green cart for picking sunflowers and this convinced Lucas to share and give a place on the tractor seat to the other kids eagerly waiting for the tractor.
Jacob and Lucas took a cart to a field of sunflowers, where we literally got lost and time ran away beautifully. Lucas started picking up broken sunflowers and studied them carefully. He even stroked them! We liked Lucas’s idea of collecting the broken ones, so we took a few and put them in our cart. For a moment, Jacob and I sat on a straw bale and watched how Lucas was absolutely present in ‘his moment’ of play and discovery of nature. He examined each leaf on the sunflower, its yellow pollen and he watched the busy bumblebees avidly.
As we were watching Lucas, one of the owners of the farm came over and started chatting about sunflowers, kids, the harvest, and how a heavy rainy season (it was one the wettest years in England) had ruined the whole crop of corn to the extent that they hadn’t been able to open it to the public. As he spoke, we noticed that the paths between the sunflowers were lined with linen rugs and sacks to strengthen the soaked, muddy terrain around the plants.
After saying goodbye to the farmer, we visited further fields with different types of sunflowers, which aren’t designed for picking but where you can sit on a straw bale, take photos or just admire nature. And there was a great deal of natural life there! We took a lot of photos and every time I managed to get a good one of the constantly moving Lucas I was delighted.
Jacob spotted a combine harvester, which drove into a large field of grain and began to cut it. He threw Lucas as high as he could and little Lucas eagerly watched the grain being harvested. This sight always announces the end of summer to me – or perhaps the beginning of an Indian summer, but definitely the start to a new season. I always try during these moments to slow down and enjoy the present with all my senses. It was so sweet how Jacob and Lucas were happy together watching the harvest.
The evening slowly approached and there were fewer and fewer people in the fields. Lucas started to yell and get tireder and tireder, so it was time to go. Today I know that it was not only one of the last days of the summer holidays, but also one of the last moments for just the three of us!
I look forward to sharing some stories about other trips from my pregnancy in further posts.