Last year's sunflowers after an ice storm.  Off Mt. Zion Road in Franklin County.  February 18, 2003.  5:26 p.m. EST.

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     We had a terrible ice storm this past weekend, a coating of ice almost an inch thick over grass, trees, cars, and anything else exposed to the weather.  Tree limbs and power lines fell, cars got stuck on the ice, animals who live outside suffered.
     The people who planted these dozens of sunflowers last spring did so with the intention of feeding birds this winter.  It worked.  Seeds from the dried flower heads dropped to the ground, and snow beneath the sunflowers was covered with tracks of little bird feet.  If birds have the capacity to be grateful, then they probably were.

     This is the most expensive picture I've ever shot.  After photographing the sunflowers, I was backing out of the driveway and my truck got stuck on the ice.  The homeowner, the man who planted the sunflowers for the birds, offered to pull me out with his four-wheel-drive truck.  His truck got stuck, too.  I had to call for a tow truck to get us both out.
     While we were waiting for the tow truck, I was invited inside the house and met the man's family.  The ice storm had knocked out their electricity two days earlier, and they were having their supper by candlelight.  Their house was dark, but a woodstove kept it warm enough.  They offered me something to eat and drink.  Someone got up from the table and offered me her chair.  We sat and talked about the ice storm, and about the old days before electricity, how hard it must have been, how dark it must have been on a winter night like this one.
     The tow truck arrived and pulled out both our trucks.  Paying the driver for the tows was my responsibility, my having set in motion the entire calamity.
     Was this picture worth the $120 it cost me?  I really can't say.  Some things are hard to figure. 

Posted February 18, 2003.