the dandy dandelions are baaaaack and we are celebrating them! i cannot help but smile looking at dandelions. i have a rich history with them. i suppose many moms do.
so, for many reasons – the bees included – we won’t be quiiiite as obsessive about ridding our lawn of them. not to mention, they are stubborn and will likely return despite any attempts to mitigate them. i have found taproots of great length underground – dandelions aspiring to be large carrots, channeling the subterranean tenacity of root vegetables.
but – in the end – even with this year’s gargantuan effort to have nice grass and earn the respect of the GrassKing, we need our pollinators and we need flowers for tiny toddlers to pick. so, we will dial it back a little bit on total eradication and live in the memories of fists full of dandelions.
it plummeted. this stunningly beautiful day – high 60s and touching the bright happy face of the low 70s – and then…
the highest high this week is 42, with a feels-like of 38. the lowest high this week is 26, with a feels-like of 13, which, incidentally they label “very cold” in parentheses next to the number 13. no duh. the lowest low will be 15 and the app leaves us guessing – right now – on the feels-like of that. so…yes…it plummeted.
but for a few days november teased us and dandy lions rose from the dirt, roaring, “spring! it must be spring!”. i’m betting if we hiked out there – say today – snow showers in the forecast – all the dandies would be gone, all shriveled and sad, tucking their heads down against the wind and elements. but those few days…
they are reminders of things we don’t appreciate while we have them. reminders to stand in gratitude – to look around all bright-eyed and see the amazing things in our own sphere as we encounter them. we linger often on the negatives, the anxieties and angsty worries, the what-we-don’t-haves. but on the day you can feel the sun on your face and are surrounded by the colors of autumn and the dandies are in bloom and the owl hoots in the night, i feel like it would sustain me longer were i to linger just another minute to recognize it all.
this past week. a hotbed mixture of happenings and emotions. loss and sundrenched days, both. the dashing of dreams and dreaming, both. end-of-life and birth, both. i look back and try to stand in each of those places, try to soak it up – like a dandelion in last-licks-sunshine – and i try to appreciate it all. not just appreciate it…reeeeally appreciate it. it all matters. fear is in there too…we are human and we get scared. but gratitude is like a warm blanket and it helps, even a little.
we were lucky to hike, lucky to drive north a few hours to see a friend perform, lucky to have had a time of security, lucky to stand together in an rv dealership and dream “someday”, lucky to prepare soup for dinner with 20, lucky to sit by our pond sipping wine, lucky to light happy lights around our house. we were lucky to see the sun come up through the windows east of our pillows, lucky to see the sun go down through the trees on the trail. i was lucky to hear even a tiny text from both beloved kiddos, lucky to 3-way-hug with d and dogdog, lucky to stand at the kitchen table and miss my sweet momma.
to spend a few more minutes relishing might carry me a little further down the road, a little further away from big worries. each thing a bit of ballast, stabilizing, centering, grounding me, dandying me with courage.
i wondered if it was too predictable. each spring, now, a dandelion. each spring, now, the song “fistful of dandelions”.
yet the lyrics – “you remind me of the simple things” – they still count. maybe even more than before.
singer-songwriter: a musician who writes, composes, and performs their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies. (wikipedia)
composer: a person who writes music, especially as a professional occupation. (dictionary)
pianist: a person who plays piano, especially professionally. (dictionary)
i have not written, composed or performed my own musical material in quite some time now. does that change who i am?
when i wrote “i haven’t been playing” a dear friend asked me, “what’s that about?” i didn’t answer. i wasn’t trying to be rude. i just didn’t have an answer. i still don’t.
we, d and i, decided – in a pillow moment one night – to call all the stuff that has happened (to me) since i broke both of my wrists “the burtons” (naming every-single-weird-thing after the brand of snowboard i was on when i fell.) it matters not – the broken wrists, the scapholunate ligament tear, the firing, the oddball itinerant tendonitis, two broken toes, other strange and disturbing body stuff – we are choosing to call it all “the burtons”.
so, i guess i blame the burtons. i wrote, “i’m not sure of much that isn’t different these days.”
i am learning – ever so slowly – that different is ok.
and as i clear out, clean out, declutter, put away all that is no longer useful – i am beginning – again – to see the simplest things that are left. gratitude for those things is starting to overtake any yearning for more. “all the riches i will need today.”
each day now i write. not lyrics. not music. but words. it is part of the natural rhythm of my day and not something i could sacrifice without great regret.
writer: you’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. (writer’s digest)
“…so they sound like music.”
and one day, maybe soon – maybe after my studio has been cleared out, cleaned out, decluttered and all that is no longer useful is put away – i will put down whatever my resistance is and place my hands back on the keys.
i don’t suppose it matters how old we get. we are ok if they are ok. conversely, we are not ok if they are not ok.
our children. that moment that your entire life changes – the earth tilts on its axis – and things are never the same again. it’s a conversation i have had again and again.
written when my son was a little boy with a dirty little fist of yellow flowers and my daughter was just a smidge older and taller than he, i am no less gobsmacked by the passage of time now than i was then. days become weeks and months and suddenly many more candles on the birthday cake. and time does what time does. these tiny people become grown human beings in the world and no longer need you to help tie their shoes or put bandaids on owies. no yearning will slow it all down, yet we tend to want to linger in feeling a sense of being needed. the earth keeps spinning; the laugh lines and worry wrinkles appear suddenly in the mirror as we glance on the way past. and the riches are a deep and vast trunk we keep close, always mindful of every tiny or big opportunity to add to it.
it really is the simple stuff. hearing your grown child laugh, watching them adventure, applauding their successes, reassuring them in times of trial. blissful moments you can spend with them, texted pictures of their lives, unexpectedly hearing their voice on the other end of the phone, hugging them. always walking the fine line. so much pressure to hold that line. always learning. knowing their star is still in your galaxy, but is independently forming its own constellation. the emotional perils of motherhood, of parenthood.
“it overwhelms me what i feel…this heart outside of mine….is walking in another person, in another life.”
and always, the bottom line, it seems in each conversation i have had, is the ok-ness. for truly, if they are not ok, there is no way to rest easy. if they are not ok, it changes how we are in the world, how we engage. if they are not ok, it is the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing in our prayers at night.
little or big, they – indeed – are the riches. they are every single dandelion.
magical. the starry tufts of white floating on the breeze. seeds from wild flowers, they are on a course not of their own volition. white filaments of dandelions, designed to fly and leave a wake behind their path, fluff past, on their way to parts unknown. part of the wind. dandelions’ wispy seeds can be aloft over a half mile before parachuting their way to the ground. no gps, no triptik, no maps or intended destination.
much like how it feels right now. a part of the wind.
in this time of global pandemic, of racial protest, of economic strife, of political chaos, it feels as though the wind has taken me. battered to and fro, it feels as it there is no determined destination, no way to avoid the headwinds, no escaping the jet stream. the wind just picks me up and takes me, each day, to a different place. never physically far from the place of origin, it makes me feel just enough of a lack of control that i am ill at ease, never quite settled, never quite sure, always a bit tentative, always wary.
and instead of letting the breeze blow and riding it like a standup board in a serene lake, i resist. i find the need to know – where am i going? – too pressing, too unnerving. i paddle against the current, seeking ways to see, to move in a direction that makes sense. but it’s ineffective. i tire and give it up to the myriad of air currents swirling around me.
it is what it is. we are, indeed, a part of the wind. just starry tufts.
“deliriously oblivious,” i thought as we passed the bees buzzing the dandelions on the trail. with no real idea of the state of the pandemic-battered world, these bees were just going about their bee-life. in some silly way, i was jealous.
much of the time right now i feel as if we are living in an alternate reality than others. we shop with masks; many wander about fresh-faced and seemingly unaware. we distance from others; we pass gatherings of people, clearly not related, all not even a smidge apart from each other. we walk in single file on the side of the trail as we approach others; groups of people swarm the trail, passing right by us, unmasked, unconcerned. we yearn to travel a bit, see our children, our families; others post about their gatherings or even trips. we patiently work by videoconference, technology reigns supreme these days waiting for a time when it is safer to venture out; crowds protest and push for heedless immediate re-opening. our hearts break for families losing loved ones to this dangerous virus; deaths are reported as cold numbers sans empathy. the weighing of losing more lives vs ‘opening up’ is posed as an actual question. it feels like we are on another plane of existence watching the world, abiding by different rules. truly.
and right here, in the middle of it all, the bees buzz from dandelion to dandelion, and soon flower to flower, seeking nectar. migratory birds return to the skies above and animals return to prowl about in warmer temperatures. in other parts of the country and the world, wildlife is enjoying a reprieve from people. in what must be a breath of fresh air for them, animals are freer to roam, freer to linger. their curiosity is taking them off the beaten path, out of their norm. i wonder if there is some kind of intuition that informs them; i wonder if they are somehow conscious of this looming threat to humanity. i wonder what they are thinking as they watch this play out, the impact of a pandemic on health, relationships, mindfulness, neighborliness, working in community together. i wonder how they, in the infinite wisdom of instinct, would decide if someone placed the words ‘health’ and ‘economy’ in front of them and made them choose just one.
there are moments i am convinced that dogdog and babycat know. i’m sure that they can feel the anxiety we hold. dogga, in particular, watches our faces for cues, his gaze is eye-to-eye-contact riveting. they hover about us, close by. perhaps unmindful of the pandemic, but certainly conscious of our emotions.
and as bumblebees begin to buzz in our backyard, the dog chases them. the birds begin to discover there is water in the pond again. the squirrels dance across the wires. the turkey lands on the roof. the sun rises earlier. the lettuce starts to grow.
the dried bones of the cornfield are beautiful. we have watched the field change through the seasons. last summer when we couldn’t see beyond the stalks in front of us, lush and green and full of life. the fall when, as the field browned, we would find cobs on the trail, feed corn for the deer and other gluten-free wildlife. (just making sure you are paying attention!) the winter, when snow charmed the tall stalks. and finally, early spring, combine-blunt-cut-short stalks remain in this no-till field, sharing the rich soil with the promise of spring. dandelions and corn. co-existing. apparently, dandelions are easier to control in the fall than in the spring. they store up moisture and nutrients in their roots and so are pretty hardy in these may-days. they were there all along. co-existing.
we don’t disparage dandelions. we have dandelions in our yard. co-existing with grass. we aren’t pro-active about gaining their presence, but neither are we terribly pro-active about eliminating them. we don’t spray chemicals that would be harmful to either domestic pets walking by or to wild animals that roam our area. we do have neighbors who are deeply invested in their removal, so we try to be good community stewards and pull some out so as to not spread them. but dandelion-removal isn’t a passion of ours and we really don’t mind too much the co-existence of dandelions with grass. besides, we can always blame it on last fall. they’ve been there all along.
“…it overwhelms me what i feel…this heart outside of mine….is walking in another person, in another life…” (lyrics)
there is something mysterious and knock-you-to-your-knees-powerful about feeling like you have a heart walking in another person. i know – now – how my sweet momma felt. each time she asked me to let her know i arrived safely while driving cross-country, each time i shared good news, each time she checked in on me after any sort of gritty life-drama, each time she sent cards with messages of encouragement or congratulations, each time i saw her try not to weep upon my leaving. i get it. she could feel her heart – out there – moving around in the world, just outside her sight view.
motherhood is not for wimps. it is, by far, the most gratifyingly-toughest-most-important job i will ever know. i have had to grow two extra hearts and then let them go, wandering and exploring this good earth, finding themselves and their happiness. i can feel it, these hearts – out there. but, with the exception of the time i can actually put my arms around My Girl or My Boy, it’s all just outside my sight view. overwhelming. yes.
and, although i have told it before, here is the story – again:
we walked The Girl to kindergarten. it was spring and sunny and warm. dandelions were everywhere. on the way home, The Boy dropped my hand to toddler-zigzag around a yard where dandelions > grass by far (kind of like ours.) he bent down and picked yellow flower upon yellow flower. until he came running back to me. he held up his sweaty-dirty-little-boy fist, full of bright yellow and green dandelions and said, “woses for momma.”
one of the sure signs of spring’s imminent arrival in our town is when boats start populating the harbor again. big shrink-wrap is removed from cabin cruisers, sailboats and yachts of all sizes and the slips start to fill up, slowly at first and then with abandon.
it was with much glee that, on our hike through the trails in a local forest preserve, i spotted it and called out, “the first dandelion!” i’m aware that not many people get as excited about dandelions as i do, but, for me, this harbinger of spring – along with gentle beauties like lilacs and tulips and daffodils – is cause for celebration. it conjures up images of cups of dandelions in water on my counter, having gone from little-kid-fists to my hands. it makes me think of decades ago, sitting cross-legged in the grass, making necklace chains out of clover. it brings the hope of a new season, the ever-more-constancy of sun and warmth, the season of flip-flops approaching.
with so much uncertainty on the horizon, the drone of winter’s end is taxing. we yearn for a blanket of warm sun, a chance to raise our faces from worry to face the sky, to breathe freshly mown grass, to put our hands in the dirt, cleaning away the debris of the harder times, perhaps preparing to plant.
but this is wisconsin and this is life and nothing is really static. life is fluid as is weather. four days after we celebrated “the first dandelion!” we drove home through a snowstorm, blowing, wet snow covering the courageous pioneers of spring. the thing i try to remember, as the grasp of winter holds tight the reins of this new season, is that they are still there.
we have dandelions. ask our neighbors. luckily our neighbors on the west (and our sweet friends) share our love and adoration of dandelions. well, maybe not love and adoration, but they don’t have a terrible aversion to them either. neither of our households competes in what charlie calls “the lawn olympics.” we have old houses and, thus, old lawns. and yes…i have walked around our neighborhood and there are plenty of old houses with utterly rich, dense, verdant carpets. but, alas, that is not us.
we have much to learn about grass. everyone in our circle asks dan, because dan is a lawn god. his grass is gorgeous and cross-cut and weedless. we do have a lot to learn from him. we are glad (but only for the grass reason) that he and gay don’t live next door. but if they did – (and that would be lovely, but only on the east side so as not to displace our west side neighbors) – i am betting that our dandy dandelions would be gone and we would have dandy grass instead.