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Special meaning . . . The McCone family's latest hay bale creation at the Kakanui Bridge. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

The McCone family’s new hay bale creation in Kakanui takes on different meanings to different people.

For Simone McCone, her family, and many others in the Kakanui community, the giant sunflower was a special way to remember their friend Jacinda, who died last year.

Sunflowers were Jacinda’s favourite and when the hay bale creation was finished on February 20, a group of her friends gathered at the Kakanui Bridge to remember and celebrate her life on the first anniversary of her death, Mrs McCone said.

People who knew Jacinda knew what the sunflower was for — ‘‘lots of people said she would’ve loved it as well’’ — but it had taken on different meanings for others, Mrs McCone said.

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, and since Russia invaded that country last month, the flower has become a global symbol of resistance, unity and hope. And a lot of people told Mrs McCone it just brightened up their day.

‘‘Someone sent me a photo of a bunch of bikies, with Harleys and all sorts, parked here and taking a photo [with the sunflower],’’ she said.

‘‘Everyone thinks it’s really cool, which is really nice.’’

Making hay bale creations on their farmland by the Kakanui Bridge has become a regular activity for the McCone family.

It started during the 2020 lockdown, when teddy bears started popping up in windows across the country, and the McCone children — Paige, Jack and Charlie — wanted to join in.

But instead of putting a teddy bear in a window of their Maheno-Kakanui Rd home where no-one would see it, they went big, creating a giant haybale teddy bear.

It attracted plenty of interest from people out walking and brought smiles to the faces of passing motorists going about their essential travels during lockdown.

At Christmas time, they made a hay-bale Santa Claus in the same spot. At Easter, they created a giant Easter bunny and Easter-egg basket, and they have also marked Anzac Day with a giant poppy.

They loved creating them — and they kept doing it because the community loved them too.

‘‘We’d bump into people down the street, at the grocery store, even when Steven went to the pub, one of the other farmers said, ‘Good on ya, what’s next?’ — and they’ve always got great ideas once they’ve had a couple of beers.’’

But the sunflower was a ‘‘really, really special’’ one.

Mrs McCone had initially planned to draw the sunflower freehand on the bales, but LJ Hooker real estate agent Erin Kingan offered to gift her old corflute signs to be repurposed as sunflower petals and leaves. Mrs McCone’s husband Steven and his brother Matthew helped with its creation.

‘‘When we were making this one, I had this picture in my mind, and I didn’t want any of those nails to be seen. I was like, ‘It needs to be perfect’,’’ she said.

But when she stood back, she realised she loved the imperfections — and ‘‘not everything is perfect’’, she said.

Mrs McCone did not know what the next hay bale creation would be, or when it would go up, but she hoped to involve Maheno School in its design.