Sunday, May 22, 2005

Precious Dandelions

I don't know about the rest of the country, but it has rained here almost nonstop for over a week, and we are all pretty tired of it. I looked out the window the other day and saw the telltale signs - a yard covered with dandelions. Ed hadn't been able to mow the grass, and I was getting impatient. When we put the house on the market, I talked to Ed (OK, nagged Ed) about the importance of mowing the lawn. He hates to mow the lawn, and I can understand that. We have hills and slopes and rocks and sticks and bees and everything to make lawn mowing unpalatable, but with a "for sale" sign in the front yard, the lawn just has to be mowed on a regular basis now! And here he had the best, most valid excuse of all - it had rained and rained and rained.

I did notice how pretty the tulips and daffodils were, so many colors, so many shades. They are really gorgeous.

But those dandelions were everywhere. I think they were mocking me.

The next day 2-year-old Caroline came to visit. I was ecstatic that the rain decided to take a break and the sun was shining for a little while, and Caroline, as always, wanted to go outside and walk around the yard.

I said, "Look at all the pretty flowers!" Her eyes got big. "Yellow flowers!" she said.
"Yes," I said, "and pink, and orange, and red..." She immediately reached for a dandelion.
She pulled one up and clutched it tightly. I steered her toward the tulips. "These are tulips," I told her. "See how pretty the red colors are?" Caroline was not interested. She went back to the dandelions and plucked another one. And another one. My attempts to show my granddaughter the real flowers were met with only a cursory attention. She only had eyes for the little yellow, common, utterly irritating dandelions. I walked all over the yard with her while she toddled from one group of weeds to another, and her bouquet was getting fuller by the minute.

Finally she had plucked all her little hand could hold, and we started back to the house. Of course, as soon as she picks them she gives them away. One for Grammy, one for Pappy, one for Mama, even one for the dog. She presents her gifts as if they were the rarest orchids in the world - because to her, they are.

I receive an inspirational message by e-mail every day, and the one today made me think of Caroline and her precious dandelions. Here is what it said:

What a dawning appears to the man or woman who earnestly inquires, "Who is living life for me? Am I really thinking for myself or am I unknowingly projecting acquired ideas which may be all wrong?"

Vernon Howard

Why do I value the tulips over the dandelions? I guess society has taught me that dandelions are weeds (OK, my Dad may have had a hand in this idea - he was the weed expert!) which are inferior and tulips are real flowers and thus superior. I have never questioned that assumption. Why did Caroline go for the dandelions? Maybe because she had never seen a TV commercial touting tulips over dandelions, she had never opened a magazine article explaining which flowers were more important or more beautiful, she had never polled the neighbors to see which flower was more preferred. She just saw them, thought they were worthy of obtaining and worthy of giving to the people who mattered most to her.

In my quest for simplicity, when I make decisions over what is truly important to me, I will try to ignore what society might think is important. We tend to accumulate things based on what we have been told is important (it might be the biggest house, or car, or swimming pool, or the "right" designer clothes, or the highest salaried job) and rarely consider the fact that our inner spirit is leading us in a direction where choices are made on a deeper level and come from the inside and not the outside.

I look at Caroline in a different light now. I look at her as my teacher.

Thanks, Caroline. Love, Grammy.


Anonymous said...

Carol, I will now nag you, compile this into a book. If you don't want the money, fine, give it to your church or a charity. You have a true gift for putting words on paper.


Dhyana said...

Caroline's dandelions. I just found your blog after creating one myself as a resource for incoming Hampshire college prospective students to see what students do over the summers...I clicked past the accounting blog just after mine to find -Journey to Simplicity, which struck a chord for me with my desire of living simply. I'm gaining skills and educational experience to become a naturalist and conservation biologist. It's so good to ask why when we come across the dandelion quandry. No reason for us to appreciate and value a dandelion any less. I love how you've framed it, with the quote and our need to think for ourselves, especially in regards to the culturally accepted mindset. Thanks for your thoughts. We'd all do well to regain that childlike wonder and acceptance.