Surprisingly I had never wondered where oil comes from but it seems obvious now – sunflowers! Lots and lots of big, smiley sunflowers. Given that our supermarket shelves are full of bottles of sunflower oil, it makes sense that farmers must grow field upon field of sunflowers.
I’m wondering why had it never occurred to me that somewhere in the world somebody would be growing sunflowers for this very purpose. Just like they grow fields of cotton, fields of coffee beans, fields of lavender – why not fields of sunflowers? Funny how we take so much for granted…
I’m spellbound by the vast seas of frilly laced seed heads as we drive through the countryside south of Angouleme in the Dordogne region of southern France. Even the sound of the children singing loudly, laughing at their funny, childish jokes or squabbling over who poked whom in the back of the car doesn’t distract as we pass by the row upon row of tall, straight, sentinel like plants.
Some fields have old ruins poking their way up through the legions of flowers, some copses of trees, but for kilometre after kilometre we are surrounded by the large green leaves topped by the yellow and brown heads of these stunning crops.
Individual faces may bow slightly downwards to the dry soil that anchors them in place, but each and every one of them gaze in the same direction as they stand motionless, soaking up the rays of the baking hot sun.
Next time I look at the famous painting by van Gogh I will have an inkling of why he painted these sunny flowers … perhaps he too had visited this region of France where all the sunflowers grow so majestically.
… and I’ll never take a bottle of sunflower oil for granted again.