I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, with or without a boyfriend. I love the pervasive red and pink in shops. I love the additional flowers that seem to pop up more places. I love any excuse to have fresh flowers around.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I went out this week and took my bicycle with me for a little photoshoot next to a mural I discovered recently. I thought it was extra cute with the Valentine balloons. 💙🚲❣️🎈❣️
While I wander around the world most of the year, I still return home to the U.S. often to see family (and Brinkley, of course!) often. A couple of years ago, my cousin introduced me to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and it’s only 40 minutes away from where I grew up. I’m still wondering how I could have missed it all these years. The full story will appear in another blog post, but here are the Waterlogues from recent sunrise visit to Grinter Farms in Lawrence, Kansas.
Coucou, Everyone! Just had to share one of my favorite photos and its accompanying story…
A year ago, a friend of a friend told me she had a friend (are you following?) that I just had to meet, as she was about to move to Paris. Great, I thought, I love to meet others with a shared love for Paris. Patty and I agreed to meet in the neighborhood she had chosen to live in for the next 12 months: the 11th. Of the 20 arrondissements in Paris, a handful of them hold much less interest to me than others, and the 11th is one of them. I can’t say I know why this is, but something about it has never had much draw for me. I know there are many loyal onzième-ers out there, so please don’t be offended! Anyway, the good news is, Patty – even before moving to Paris – loved the 11th, so she was totally prepared to share her knowledge of the neighborhood with me.
We made plans for a morning date on what ended up being a rather wet day. I stopped over at her place near a charming small park, then we headed to the nearby and newly-opened Broken Biscuits. We chatted briefly with the two employees then ordered our goodies and settled into the front two seats. As you can see from the exterior photo, it’s a very small space, so we were lucky to get the best seats in the house.
Not too many people stopped in in the time we were sitting there, but the story that goes along with the shot of me in the window is one of my all-time favorite photo stories. You see, a woman with the red grocery cart walked up first, and parked her market purchases right out front. Seeing this, I interrupted Patty, and hopped outside to take a photo. What a cute shot, right? Within a couple of minutes, though, a man on this lovely blue bike parked it right in front, and perfectly, too. You see, it’s not leaning, it’s not locked up, it’s just perfectly positioned in front of the shop front.
At this point, Patty was 100% in on the impromptu photo shoot as well, and we knew we had to be quick about it because these customers would be served within minutes. We both jumped up and shot each other sitting poetically in the front window in what had been an already-darling scene, but the elements that came along just made it that much better.
Usually when people hear I’m from Kansas City, they drop the “City” and talk about “Kansas” from then on. If you’re from the area, you know exactly why this is frustrating. Kansas has some antiquated laws and rampant sentiment that I do not agree with or care to be associated with. I guess the addition of “City” implies a certain level of progressive thinking that I prefer to be associated with. However, back in 2014, my hometown fellow adventurer introduced me to a Kansas wonder, a destination I had never heard of before that played a major role in changing my view on the State. When we finally had our excursion to the not-so-far-away glorious fields of sunflowers she had recently learned about, my feelings about the Sunflower State softened.
I had no idea what to expect during our first visit there, all I knew was that we were heading for sunflower fields. We went to Grinter Farms one mid-afternoon on a late summer day, so the sun shone bright on the acres and acres of sunflowers. The scene was not lost on me, however, with the tens of thousands of sunflowers standing in salute to the sun. I was now in awe of Kansas’ beauty.
And this is only a few acres of it…
In 2015, my fellow adventurer and I watched the Grinter Farms Facebook page closely and made our trek out west 😉 once we were confident the flowers were close to blooming / in bloom. I, myself, about to return to Paris, was on a bit of a time crunch. My departure in a few days meant that I had only a small window of time to see the sunflowers in bloom. Sadly, when we arrived where we had frolicked a year before among the yellow beauties, there was nothing but an empty field. We saw no signs to lead us elsewhere, so we just called it a loss and headed home. Not a week later, after I had returned to Europe, my sunflower buddy sent me a photo of the beautiful farm in full bloom. We had been around the corner (in farm distance) from where she eventually found the flowers. Turns out they use different fields from time to time. If only we had known!
This year was different, though. For months, I checked in on the sunflower fields. As the fields have become more and more of an attraction for people all across the Midwest, it seems details of the “bloom report” have become more specific. In July, I noticed they had only just planted the sunflower seeds. This worried me, as I could imagine myself faced with the same issue I had worried about in 2015: a year without an awe-striking sunflower field view.
Well, who knew such enormous plants could grow so much in two months time?! By early September, the report was that the flowers were nearly due to bloom. This year I was not going to miss it!
I made two trips within a few days, once at sunset with my mom and then a few days later at sunrise by myself. Not surprisingly, there were very few people there when I arrived at 6:30 am. For about half an hour, it was just me, by bicycle, and a few people with a drone. Yes, you read that correctly… I took my bike with me! What would make for a more charming photo than an adorable prop amongst the flowers?
I just loved wandering around and through the 40 acres of sunflowers. Beauty like that requires a lot of stopping and staring. How else can you fully comprehend you’re in the presence of such beauty? Eventually, I took my bike around the Farm to shoot it in different settings. The sun came up quickly, so I had to work quickly. And even though the fields seem to go on forever, I did my best to stay where the now-large influx of visitors was not yet. (If you know my photography, you know how infrequently I have people in my shots.)
When I was taking one of my last photos of the morning, I rolled my bike out of the field (no flowers were trampled in the process!), and as I was nearing the edge, I saw a beautiful shot behind me. I parked my bike to get the shot, then realized it was even better with the bike in the foreground. You may have seen this image elsewhere, since a few passers-by thought it was cute enough to shoot as well. As I’m sure you photographers know, it can be very frustrating when a person “steals” your shot (especially right in front of you!), but I didn’t say anything… I was too busy appreciating the view. 🌻🌻🌻
A special thanks to the owners and farmers at Grinter Farms, who generously allow their property to become a literal stomping ground for at least a couple of weeks a year. The donations we leave in the boxes around the property are but a token of my great appreciation for sharing Nature’s beauty with a larger audience.
Amsterdam again this Waterlogue Wednesday. The name Falling Off Bicycles didn’t pop out of nowhere. Nope, it came to me one day when I was living in Amsterdam. I was doing a lot of soul-searching at that time, as well as a lot of writing. I was so inspired by all the charming scenes of bikes parked in front of cute scenes, I had decided to shoot them and create a site to share them. I didn’t know at that time what purpose these hundreds of photos would serve and how they would end up inspiring me to create a travel photography business eventually. Since that time six years ago, I haven’t been able to stop taking photos of parked bikes – in Amsterdam and elsewhere. I’ve since added bicycle photos from Paris, London, Rome, Gent, and many smaller cities. I have so many, I could never possibly share them all. So for now, please enjoy a few of my favorite recent ones. 😍