all of the selves we Have ever been
I see a lawn tractor ahead.
The contraption is so loud that it sucks me into its sphere and deafens me to the whooshing sounds of passing highway traffic. Even my own thoughts drown in the cacophony. A spray of dead clippings showers the asphalt walking path. As I step among the grassy remains, I witness a resurrection.
One-by-one dandelions spring up in the mower’s wake. They rise tall and regal in this field of stubby grass. Brilliant and moist, their lives are a sharp contrast to the brown and lifeless trimmings that cover my shoes. Like golden-haired ballerinas, the dandelions know just when to bow and when to rise for an encore. I laugh out loud as each milk-filled stem unfurls and reaches toward the sun. This troupe of tiny dancers has outwitted both man and machine.
I doubt that these sassy blossoms ever considered succumbing to the executioner’s blade. Dandelions have work to do. They are every man’s flower, a poor man’s medicine, a starving man’s food. Despite war and climate change, the rise and fall of civilizations, dandelions have been going strong for 30 million years. More recently, they immigrated to this country aboard the Mayflower along with our Pilgrim ancestors.
While adults may have forgotten the dandelion’s proud heritage and may call the humble bloom a weed or a pest, little children are still capable of awe. They can see the beauty in a simple thing without cataloging its faults.
Despite adult efforts to eradicate them, dandelions are loved by children. A child’s love trumps pesticides, and, I believe, turns these flowers into masters of survival. Just the right size for small, chubby hands, dandelions are everywhere and within a child’s reach. These common flowers are not temperamental like orchids or thorny like roses. Generous bouquets can be gathered at no expense and proudly offered to people loved. Small bouquets fill teacups that adorn countertops and kitchen tables. Blossoms are jewels to be woven into crowns and necklaces. Colorful “stews” are concocted inside tents and treehouses. Magic wishes travel on puffs of dandelion seeds. Dandelions are a child’s birthright. They deliver a message of hope that life is abundant, persistent, and renewable. How else could a child survive?
All of these thoughts fill my mind as the noise of the lawn tractor fades. Nature is a miracle. How does something so small, so ordinary, contain so much strength, agility, patience, and resilience? It is my turn to bow. I honor the dandelions as I pass. They are the heralds of spring, the rebirth I hungered for during the pandemic winter. The flowers comfort me with their familiarity and remind me that life goes on. In a time of shortages, they reassure me with their effortless abundance.
When I die, bury me under a blanket of audacious dandelions gathered by the sweet, chubby hands of true believers. Send me down into the earth to mingle with these enduring roots.