I've always been fascinated by dandelions. Hearty, annoying weed or cheerful sunburst springing determinedly from the earth, heralding the lazy, hazy and no doubt crazy days of summer? Like with anything in life, it depends on your perspective I suppose. If you're a gardener or just a typical suburbanite with lawn pride then you may think of them as the 'enemy'--they choke your grass and must be napalmed with the strongest chemicals around. As a kid we'd make hippie chains and wear them around our necks in the 70s...to us 'flower power' simply meant a crown of yellow weeds in your hair and around your neck. I remember a friend and I tried to make dandelion tea once...stank up the kitchen for days...my mother was less than thrilled. Nobody ever coined the expression, "A dandelion by any other name would smell as sweet." As for the tea idea...we read in a book that it was supposed to cleanse the liver. All they really did was crumble and dissolve into thousands of tiny little golden petals floating like rank seaweed in the pot. We held our noses and drank it down, never stopping to consider the fact that at 13, our livers were the cleanest they'd probably ever be.
And who could forget the singsong childhood chant that went along with ruthlessly decapitating these wildflowers between thumb and forefinger? "My mama had a baby and his head popped off!" Interesting little ditty or serial killer theme song? Well....since my friends are currently non-felons I guess it's safe to assume that it was harmless enough.
Every summer, seeing the milkweed pods (precursor to dandelions) in all of their fluffy little glory was an invitation to make a wish, blowing hundreds of tiny cotton-tipped parachutes into the wind, much to the aggravation of landscapers everywhere, probably...To me and my friends, the dandelions were not just a nuisance or an untamed part of nature. They were a clear signal that summer had arrived. Pools were uncovered and swum in, bikes were dusted off and ridden again, and lemonade stands would be back open for business at a nickel a cup. Summer was a yellow weed and skinned knees. It meant staying out and playing until the streetlights came on. It was the *thwapthwap* sound of the fan in the window... accompanied by a cricket orchestra that lulled you to sleep with its white noise dreams in wait.
I love the quote from a song (called 'Dandelion', of course) that I chose to use at the beginning of this blog so much that I've decided to put it in my book. I especially appreciate the 'forever wild' concept...For me it says it all. The world worships beauty that is delicate, fragile and fleeting....But me? Well----I am just a bit more wild than a hothouse flower that requires constant care. Like my little yellow sunsisters, I have been rained on, stepped on, plucked, (never mind what you're thinking...you know what I mean) and still....keep coming back for more light and air. That's survival of the fittest, people. That's the strength I admire in others, too. Roses are great. They are the Hallmark flower. Orchids are ethereal. They are the prizewinners. Dandelions may be in your face and they may be loud. But they are a signal of the summer that lives within each of us. The summer that equals an unmatched freedom to be our most raucous and amazing selves. The weed that always wants to be a flower....but is, in reality, so much more.
Recently, I've been intuitively hearing that old mantra, "Bloom where you are planted." And when I think about it, even with the knowledge that I've never had much of a green thumb...I think I am trusting more and more in the wisdom of this message. Technically, dandelions aren't planted as much as they are, well...for lack of a better word, 'spawned' like all creative ideas...carried by the wind until they find a place to land and take root.
I spent so much of the last ten years like those proverbial milkweed parachutes, gliding and drifting on the currents of my dreams, seeking, moving, and changing jobs. I just got offered a job in the town I live in. I gratefully took it. A seven-minute commute sounds perfect to me right about now. I don't see it as selling out or settling down as much as surrendering or even allowing...the good kind of surrender. It will allow me a chance to swim on my lunch breaks at my local gym's pool, go home for catnaps if needed, and write or sleep in during the time I was previously spending in my car commuting and avoiding fellow roadragers, most of whom look perpetually baffled and cranky as they get their morning coffee each day...It's almost as if they are secretly wondering how they blinked and went from manning lemonade stands and going home sticky and happy, coated with sugared memories, to consuming the caffeinated fuel that will get them through their morning without committing murder on the person in the cubicle next to them. Sure---I'll be one of those cubicle dwellers, too. But I bet there will be at least one or two fellow dandelions at the new place. There always are.
I will reclaim this 'found' time for constructive daydreaming. Never looking back...or at least not too much...No regrets. I will move into this new phase of life with an open mind and heart...welcoming yet another wave of the adventure on this golden-petaled journey. Because after all...that's what we dandelions do, we put on our best yellow outfits, stretch our faces towards the sun, hopefully avoid the lawnmower blades and chemical baths, and just keep on growing.