Local folks have the luxury of checking the Shasta Farms website frequently to find out when the blooms are at their most photogenic, but I only had a small window of time to visit---regardless of whether the plants were completely bloomed out or not. Consequently, as you can see in these photographs, there are lovely GREEN rows of lavender plants, making a striking contrast to Mt. Shasta in the background. But no matter when you visit this location, you will find it worthwhile. During my time there, I observed families enjoying a picnic in the shaded area provided for such activities (lower left photo), or just strolling around the fields, looking for photo opportunities. Fortunately, there was a place to set my camera, so I could put it on "automatic", to get the self-portrait in the lower right part of this collage.
One will go through several miles of rural farmland to get to the farm, but once you are there, you will find ample parking, and an attractively designed building with clean restrooms, and inviting displays of products related to all things lavender. They were even giving complementary samples of lavender lemonaide on the day I was there, and of course, they sell culinary lavender (with accompanying recipes of how to use it). The upper right photo of the collage shows the owner of the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms, David McGee-Williams.
The last photo collage of this group of four, shows some scenes from the Labyrinth that has been planted among the otherwise, long straight rows of lavender plants. Although other areas of the farm permit cutting the lavender plants ($4/100 stems), this special area is a "no scissors" zone, as illustrated by the symbol under the Labyrinth sign. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God, with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth). Since most people cannot travel to holy sites around the world, the labyrinth has become a symbolic form of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. In fact, there is a Labyrinth Society that provides a locater for modern labyrinths all over the world (www.Labyrinth.Society.org) One simply puts in their zip code, and a listing of labyrinths within a designated number of miles of your home will appear. A prayer or meditation Labyrinth is a contemplative tool with an unambiguous through-route to the center. This is different from a maze, which can be defined as a "tour puzzle", in the form of a complex, branching passage. When I visited the Labyrinth Society website, I learned that I had unknowingly visited one of the most famous prayer labyrinths in the world, when I visited the Cathedral of Chartres in France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I spent so much time there photographing the famous stained glass windows, that I had to hurriedly go through the prayer labyrinth designed into their marble floors, and was unaware of its significance as a pilgrimage site. After I found out the labyrinths located in my area of northwest Arkansas, I have plans to use the labyrinth as the "theme" for one of the "Grandma/Grandchild Day Trips" that I like to do during the summer, when school is not in session. Therefore, I have the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms to thank for a lovely afternoon of enjoying/photographing that famous northern California agriculture, PLUS inspiring me to learn more about labyrinths! So here's to wishing you "miles of smiles" through labyrinth pilgrimages wherever in the world you are! Tricia