My husband decided that since today is beautiful outside, but not too hot, he is going to cut the grass. Though I would normally be thrilled by this, I was not! You see, our grass is barely grass; it is mostly a tiny field of luscious dandelions, and I fear for their imminent demise as soon as my husband gets out of bed to guillotine them all.
I think I may be the only person over the age of seven who loves dandelions, the minor vestiges of childhood at play in my head. But dandelions have a beauty and hilarity for me that will likely never go away.
When I think of Matthew 6, the passage that says, “Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough worries of its own,” I think of dandelions. Prior to Jesus’ plea to not worry about clothing or food, he says that the lilies of the field don’t worry and not even Solomon in all his splendour was clothed like one of these! But I like to take it a step farther. The lilies of the field are beautiful, magnificent even, stately. They can be cut and formed into lovely displays of art on a kitchen table or even crafted into a bridal bouquet. Everybody loves lilies.
But dandelions people count as weeds! Yesterday, as we drove back into the neighbourhood, after being away, I noticed how lush and green all of the yards were. The flowers have bloomed now, the trees burst forth with white blossoms, the grass is making a run for the sky, and the dandelions—oh the dandelions!—are prolific.
I noticed one home with an exceptionally perfect yard—juicy, bright green grass, clipped at an acceptable length, daffodils lining the driveway, not a leaf or blossom out of place, and no dandelions, not a single one. I’m sure the toxicity of the lot was alarmingly high with the controlled mixture of pesticides and fertilizer, but it looked just swell above ground.
But next door to them was the most dandelion-populated yard in the neighbourhood. Perhaps the family was out of town, but their grass was slightly longer and tousled, with yellow dots of dandelions. I laughed in spite of myself, knowing that some kid was going to come along and blow all the wishies away into the sterile yard of perfection. You cannot escape the wishies!
Perhaps I like dandelions because as a young kid I was an optimistic idealist (for a very short time), before the world squeezed every ounce of that wonder out of me—replacing it with anxious strivings and obsessive compulsions. I used to love blowing wishies around, hoping for an end to child hunger, loneliness, and despair, and of course more brownies and ice cream.
Wishing upon a dandelion brought about childlike play for me—a rather serious child. It brought hope forth into a world I knew was not always hopeful. It brought wonder into a world I knew to be all too predictable. It brought joy into a world that sought to squish that out of little children.
In addition to blowing wishies away, my friends and I used to pluck up dandelions and make fantastic floral hairpieces out of them, weaving the flowers into circular wreaths and wearing the wilting crowns on our castle playgrounds.
Perhaps I like dandelions because of university. My final year of undergrad, I decided to nanny for a professors’ family while finishing up. Both the parents were earth-conscious, intellectual, vegans, and the two boys were still in innocence, not yet tainted by bullies or bedhead.
When I pulled up to their house to move in, the two-year-old was sitting in the yard eating…the yard. I panicked and quickly informed the parents that their son was eating their front yard. They smiled, informing me that they never use pesticides and that dandelions are totally edible and good for food. The kid continued to mow the lawn with his mouth, like a goat; and he frequently snacked on it when we played outside through my year there, I am sure eating more than just dandelions.
Or perhaps I like dandelions because a couple years ago. During a particularly difficult chapter after losing our first baby in the second trimester of a complicated pregnancy, I was out for a walk. I stumbled upon an entire field of dandelions! As I walked down from a hill into a valley of yellow sunshine, it looked like one of Georges Seurat’s pointillist paintings. I couldn’t help the wonder and awe I felt that God not only “so clothes the lilies,” but so clothes the weeds! Only a good God would make weeds both good for food and vibrant in colour. Dandelions became a symbol in my mind of God’s love and delight.
So, this morning, before my husband emerged from the cocoon of bedsheets, I snuck out of the back door in my pyjamas and socks, with my dog. I found a wishie, and picked it, looking around for any snarling neighbours. And then I blew hope into the air.