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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: White (10/29/09)

TITLE: Bartering with Dad
By Marie Fink


ďIíll give you a penny for everyone you pick,Ē bartered Dad every summer. It was a great way to earn money for penny candy, or a trip to the public swimming pool. This was during a time when you could actually still buy pieces of candy for a penny and it only cost fifty cents to go swimming. Then sometimes, we plucked these pesky edible items out of the ground for a different reason. It was the third ingredient for my grandmotherís home made dish of fried potatoes and eggs. By itself it was bitter, but in this dish it was tasty.

We filled brown paper grocery sacks full of this green, sometimes jagged and sticky stuff, which no one wanted in their yards. Voluminous amounts were necessary because when it was boiled, two large bags full would end up looking like about 3 cups of soggy spinach, only it wasnít spinach.

Sometimes my brother and I would race to see who could earn the most money, but it was often very hot and humid and he liked sweating less than I did. Being outside in the summer sunshine was always fun and for some reason, I liked yard work as a kid.

Aside from exercise and something to do on a boring, but not lazy summer day, my main reason for the work was obvious: the money to buy things. But my dadís reasons were far different, although, perhaps just as selfish. He wanted a beautiful lawn. In Pennsylvania this is easy compared to the southwest part of the United States. Beautifying a yard in my town was fairly simple. Keep the grass cut, trimmed, and free of weeds. And this money making, nutrient filled, pretty dainty little plant was a weed, a dandelion weed.

When this undesirable plant was in bloom, the head, made up of hundreds of florets, was a brilliant golden yellow color that could be rubbed under someoneís chin and made the color to match. As a youngster I was most fascinated by this dandelion when it went to seed. The somewhat flattened golden head would transform into a lovely ball of white puff. Cottony, willowy, and slender seeds would form in a perfectly round shape on the head of this once flower. The billowy head would begin to sway in a cool summer breeze and look like it was dancing.

Then if a strong wind developed, it would scatter hundreds of soaring seeds into the air. If you found a field of these on a windy day you could pretend you were in a summery snow squall of sorts. But the most fun thing to do with these parachute balls, as they are sometimes called, was to pick them and make your own windstorm by blowing on them and watching each seed take off and float away. This action, of course, was most dangerous in Dadís yard where the seeds were the enemy, but to me it was the beginning of a new cycle of bartering with Dad over pennies for dandelions.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Shipman 11/05/09
Oh wow - I loved this. Vivid delightful description of such an ordinary event from your childhood. Great intro, nice development of the topic and super conclusion. I honestly would not change a thing. I hope your dad knows how he contributed to your writing career; it would make him thankful for all those dandelions! :) (And I, too, remember the price of candy and swimming pool admission from those days - only I collected empty soda pop bottles to trade in for pennies. Fun memories, aren't they?)
Micheline Murray11/10/09
Ha! My husband paid our kids a nickel for every nail they picked up in our yard when we were under construction!Loved your story--
Rikki Akeo02/22/10
Wow. I remember paying 50 cents to swim in the community pool. I forgot about that.