Lessons from a Pick-Your-Own Flower Farm


Bernards’ Farm, south on 99 between McMinnville and Sheridan.

airstreamThe most amazing thing happened the other day. I had one of those moments where everything comes full circle, where your childhood hangups are upended in a way that makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay. Not okay, but better, more awesome, more lovely, more connected, more right.

I took the boys to our first pick-your-own flower farm. You see, I had this idea that I was going to take some pictures of them. I also had this idea that it was going to be pretty arduous — carrying the baby in my back carrier, trying to get Dashiell to pose for the camera, or at least smell the flowers.

Come on, folks, let’s get with the program! For God’s sake, take the time to smell the roses, people!

I know what you’re thinking. Shouldn’t you simply let the children frolic and see what happens? Shouldn’t this simply be one of those experiential days in which you let your children take in the world in all of its sensual pleasure and wonder? Does it really need to also be about the future — about teaching them to pleasing their lovers and loved ones by introducing them to the act of gathering flowers to give as a gift?

Girls (or boys, whatev), you’re gonna LOVE these boys someday!

The farm we went to, Bernards, is located on a long stretch of highway between McMinnville and Sheridan, Ore. It’s a family farm like the best of them, but it also has pick-your-own flowers for 25 cents a pop (thank you, Tai, for telling me about it). I can think of few better things you can get for a quarter. We arrived with both boys almost ready to fall asleep, which is never a good sign. Then we proceeded to clip and pick, watch the bees buzz around, run our fingers along the eucalyptus, and stuff our faces in the dahlias.


Smells like Oregon fall, I’m sure.

We gathered the clipped flowers for a bouquet and I arranged my eldest son, Dashiell, 3, next to this lovely wooden barn, where the produce stand is located.

“Drop the toys and grab this bouquet,” I told him.

He put the toys down on the ground and went to a nearby picnic table.

“No, put the toys on the table and hold this bouquet,” I said.

He picked up the toys, brought them over the me, and then ran back to the table.

“Dashiell, come back here.”

He picked up the toys, ran over to me (have I told you I had a baby on my back and completely full hands?).

“No, take the toys back to the table.”

He took them back to the table. Then he ran, with them, back to me.

This went on for perhaps ten minutes. I probably should have walked him by the hand instead of acting like the director of my children’s lives.

Eventually, I had him, in front of the barn, holding the flowers, set for the big event. And then it happened. He started laughing. Like crazy. This bubbly little laugh that comes from deep inside of him. And the smile he gets on his face? It can sometimes seem like a grimace because he is laughing so hard.


Dashiell, with mama’s bouquet.

I’ve fallen out of the habit of taking photographs of my children. We do it so seldom now because I don’t want them to be used to posing for pictures. How little do I have to photograph my children so they will always think it’s funny, always see it as a special thing?

But in the few moments over the past few weeks where I have taken a picture, Dash has exploded laughing. Here’s another one, when we tried out the, ahem, new Viking hat.


I hope Dashiell always does that — exploding into glorious laughter —  though I imagine, like all good things, it’s ephemeral, gone with yesterday’s dahlias. I know that’s why we take photographs, and write things down that we want to remember, and document document document. But in that instant I realized I don’t want to be that mom, arranging and setting and preparing just so I can have the the evidence of happiness afterward.

I do want to be the mom whose son gathers her flowers, though. No amount of transformation and growth will make me budge on that part.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from a Pick-Your-Own Flower Farm

  1. dinnersforwinners says:

    I love it! I’d much rather be present, also; being in the moment, not documenting it for social media (or for a scrapbook, etc). I know that it is in my memory for good, but…… photographs are just so great, too. Great post 🙂 Love Dash’s laughter!


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