Does this ever happen to you: you go looking for something and along the way, you get distracted, and forget what you were looking for in the first place? It happens to me all the time. Retracing my steps will usually help, but that’s only if I remember that I was supposed to be looking for something. If I get absorbed by the distracting thing, the “chipmunk,” then who knows when I’ll get back to the original task. (Chipmunks are an all-consuming, over-riding distraction for our dogs. Even if there’s nothing there, all we have to do is say “Is that a chipmunk?” And they go WILD —
And I see that I’ve just illustrated my own point. I started out intending to write about dandelions and veered off after a chipmunk. At least the stakes are low. It’s not as if I left the stove on, or a candle burning, or walked outside without my pants on. (I’ve done two of those three things. Yes, the first two. So far.)
The dandelions are coming, dear friend, they really are. Just a teeny, tiny chipmunk thought first: is it weird that I’m sitting alone in the dark with just the glow of my laptop screen, on a Sunday morning at 6:32 a.m. (exactly, according to my laptop, although I’m such a slow typist that it’s now 6:33), and is it weird that I’m GRINNING, because this is fun? Yup, it’s weird. One of the first things Kerry said in Blog School, which ends today (sniff, sniff,) is that blogs are weird. Well, I embrace the weirdness! Something about writing these blog posts feels more right than so much of the writing I’ve been doing, or trying to do, for a long, long time.
So, friend, if you’re still with me, let me show you these amazing dandelions.
Every spring, we drive along the Leaskdale Road to admire the trilliums that grow in the woods. Mom always watched for the trilliums too, and whichever one of us saw them first would let the other know. I took these photos last year on May 23.
The trilliums were lovely, but I was especially drawn to this dandelion that was growing all by itself, precariously, not with the others on the grass at the side of the road, but a few inches into the road itself, pushing up out of the dirt and beaming away.
I used to walk down the Leaskdale Road to think out my stories. I wrote the final draft of my first book squirreled away in the “library” at Mom’s house in Leaskdale, and took breaks by walking along this road.
L. M. Montgomery used to walk down the Leaskdale Road to think out her stories too. She lived in Leaskdale from 1911 to 1926. Among the books she wrote there were Emily of New Moon, and Anne’s House of Dreams – two of my favourite novels when I was a girl. Her husband was the Reverend Ewan MacDonald, and their three sons, Chester, Hugh, and Stuart were born at the Leaskdale manse. Sadly, Hugh was stillborn and his grave is at the Foster Memorial Cemetery, where my mom was buried last April.
Amelia and I often took her dogs to the soccer fields so they could run around. The soccer fields used to be as well-groomed, but with no one playing soccer because of the pandemic, the fields were wild with weeds, patches of dead grass, and lots of dandelions. One field had so many fluffy seed heads, it looked like a field of wishes. I made a lot of wishes on dandelions last year. Most times, I could blow all the seeds off with one breath, but a few times I couldn’t. I’d blow and blow, wondering if I had the lung power to fight COVID 19 if I got it.
One day in September, Amelia and the dogs were on the other side of the field, doing some training. She saw me on the ground and wondered if I had fallen, but then she saw me taking pictures and knew I was okay. Lupin, however, raced over … and munched the head of the dandelion I was photographing.
In late October, I was surprised and fascinated to see that on many plants, in addition to the seed heads, there were new, young flowers. Maybe it’s perfectly normal (I’m not, I regret, a gardener,) but to see fresh, bright yellow flowers blooming so late in the season – well, it made me happy! Thanks, dandelions.
To see different life stages on the same plant is wonderfully metaphoric. From the same deep, strong roots, grow young stems with flowers blooming, and old stems with seed heads ready for wishing. And when the seeds let go, each one flies off on its own adventure, perhaps taking root far away from its mother plant.
Lupin and Briar love eating dandelion flowers and seed heads. I enjoy the leaves in a salad, but so far that’s all I’ve tried. Spring is coming, though, and I might try making some dandelion recipes. L. M. M.’s favourite dandelion wine recipe is in Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book by Elaine Crawford and Kelly Crawford, but I don’t think I’ll make it — it calls for three pounds of sugar! The dandelions are healthy, though.
Thanks for reading!