Sarah Stultz: Be someone’s sunshine when skies are gray

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2021

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Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

Ever since I first heard the name Johnny Olson last year before the sunflower fields opened near Manchester, I have been intrigued.

Olson, who is most widely known as Johnny Fish, is on a quest to bring sunshine all over the state by planting sunflower fields and allowing the public to come and view them at no cost.

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He spends hours and hours of hard work on each field as he clears the grounds, plants the seeds and this year, particularly, watering them.

Last year the field in Albert Lea was dedicated to those who had lost a child tragically. This of course hit close to home, but no matter what the cause highlighted at each field, they have touched lives. They have given people a chance to celebrate life — the lives we have now and the lives of loved ones who may no longer be with us.

I saw how much joy these fields brought to the Albert Lea area during the middle of a pandemic year, and I have been watching his Facebook posts and updates for his effort this year to see how much his mission continues to grow.

This year, particularly noteworthy is a field Olson has worked on in Buffalo, where there was a horrific shooting at Allina Health Care in February that killed one and injured four others.

In the aftermath of such a traumatic time for that community and the living victims and their families, Olson decided he wanted to bring light and sunshine — and even more importantly, hope — through this field.

This field is expected to bloom this weekend — the exact date the field will open has not yet been announced.

I can only imagine what a beautiful moment this will be for those who have been closely impacted by the shooting to step aside from their worries, walk into the field, breathe some fresh air and be surrounded by positivity.

Though I am still hopeful there will be a field here locally again, this year I think I might venture up to one of the other fields.

In the meantime, I know these fields have inspired me to try to be a sunshine to someone else. It doesn’t have to be complicated and can be simple, but it can make a huge difference.

How will you spread the sunshine?

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.