Dandelions and Marshmallow Guns

When it comes to dandelions, the world pretty much divides into two camps: love or hate. Flower or weed. Cheery springtime yellow flower or scourge upon the perfect lawn. People even divide up into particular neighborhoods about dandelions. Okay, perhaps it’s not just about dandelions, but the preferences are often clear. Drive around in the springtime, and you’ll know by looking at the lawns. On one block you might find dandelions in every yard, and in another neighborhood, a dandelion is an embarrassment.

What a shame. Not liking dandelions, that is. To me, dandelions are one of the welcome signs of spring. If my kids don’t pick enough dandelion bouquets for me, I sometimes go out and pick some on my own.

As a senior in high school, when it was time to pick the class flower, I campaigned for the dandelion. Think about it…local, abundant, blooming at graduation, free. What’s not to like? I don’t remember ever actually voting, but in some sort of non-democratic fashion we wound up with a teal-tipped white rose as the class flower instead. I’m still disappointed.

People claim that dandelions aren’t real flowers, but I am certain that teal-tipped white roses do not exist in nature, and therefore are the ones that are “not real flowers.” I don’t lose sleep over the class flower issue, but it does sometimes pop into my mind in the spring when the dandelions reappear. And over 20 years later, I mention it in the newspaper because I still think dandelions are beautiful.

And right now, dandelions are in their prime: in full bloom, no messy-looking seed heads, just glorious yellow everywhere. I truly love this time of year more than any other time. In May it feels like the world is in the peak of springtime: days of blue sky and loads of sunshine, grass is lush green, apple trees are beginning to bloom, the tulips are out, dandelions blooming. It’s school field trips, graduations, open windows. Everything just feels alive with springtime, and the excitement of summer right on the horizon.

On the Run
On Saturday when I went running, everything around seemed full of that springtime life. At one point on my 3-mile loop there was a point when I was struck by it all. Heading up the incline of a small hill on a gravel road, to my right was a hay field, vibrant green dotted all over with the yellow blooms of dandelions, on my left was a freshly planted field, as deep, dark and rich as soil gets….the soil so rich that you almost want to eat it. In front of me, the sun shone right down directly in front of me on the road, and all around the sky was a deep blue.

For a second, I literally stopped in my tracks, and I wondered if heaven looked something like that. That of course made me think about my brother Mike up there. After my run, I sat down on the porch swing for the first time in a long time, feeling pretty darn lucky for the place I call home and for the people I have here with me.

Party On
This weekend, our home was especially lively. Add four extra 10 year-old boys for a birthday party on a beautiful Friday evening, combine it with our six kiddos, and the energy of kids in spring burst from every corner:

Two gallons of lemonade guzzled, a trampoline in constant use, outside cats getting hauled into the house and carried around, two big homemade pizzas devoured, one giant chocolate chip cookie evaporated. A marshmallow gun gift resulted in children, cats, and chickens all getting pelted. Bonfire with a Lord of the Flies-like swarm of boys all around, a few bonus fountain fireworks lit off, kids in sleeping bags filling up the living room. Sounds finally quieting around midnight. Waffles, blueberries and whipped cream for breakfast, and strong coffee for parents.

DSC_1440

Trick candles on a giant cookie cake seem like fun…until nine kids blow all over the cookie.

And the remnants of the party: one dirty sock of unknown ownership, marshmallows scattered all over the yard but soon cleaned up by willing chickens, staying up late Friday night turned into all eight people in our house taking Saturday afternoon naps. Lots of good memories.

It feels like with May we are finally getting the sunshine that we didn’t seem to see all winter. If I could, I’d completely cease all indoor projects and just stay outside. (Can I just stop doing dishes until winter?) Sunshine in May makes the classic rock on the Sunday drive seem all the better and the return of sundress season all the more welcome. Bring on the long days of light and extended evenings. We have a full list of plans in the works for the summertime. How much can we squeeze into three months? As much as possible.

Of course, we need to have plenty of time for the important things like picking dandelions and pelting one another with a marshmallow gun. Next time, I get a turn before the marshmallows run out. Pow pow pow!!

Written May 8, 2017

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