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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bloom (11/22/12)

TITLE: Cotton-Candy Dandies
By Marlene Bonney


A school summer vacation visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a treat in and of itself. Feuding parents and squabbling siblings were left behind, transforming my usual angst into oblivion as I relaxed in the peaceful atmosphere of their home. There were old (and therefore, unique) toys to play with, discarded by previous generations. There were chores to do that gave me a sense of worth because I was a “good little helper.” These included operating an old wringer washing machine with its wash and rinse tubs and mechanical rollers squeezing garments flat as pancakes. There was dusting and polishing, baking, washing & drying the dishes, setting and clearing of the table, and evenings playing board games. Day’s end signaled sitting out in a screened front porch, drinking ginger ale and vanilla ice cream floats in glasses (held in crocheted sleeves) for a bedtime nightcap, listening to chirping crickets and watching the neighborhood turn out their lights one by one.

But mornings tending to Grandma’s flowers was the best of all. She used to say, “one is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth,” and I still hear her voice rebating through my heart when I plant my own flowers these decades later. Her specialty was lilies—bright orange & brown striped tiger lilies or more muted yellow lemon lilies—and tall blue and white irises, their blooms standing sentry-tall against the house. A lilac bush, its purple-y, fragrant blossoms spilling over green leaves like a floral waterfall, stood by the paint-peeling garage. And, in the front yard was a pussy willow tree with its sprigs of soft fuzzy buds a complete mystery to me. As I grew older, Grandma taught me how to transplant branches from her plants and bushes to my own yard so that I have these living memorials gracing my property today.

Annual pansies were my special delight, their delicate, velvety petals never ceasing to amaze me. Purple, midnight blue, yellow, white and red blooms, some of them swirling together like a Frosty Boy ice cream twist, all bright and perky in their grand designs gracing their plots with subtle grandeur. Grandmother taught me how to prune each bloom that was wilted or shriveled,

“Slide your thumb and forefinger down from the flower all the way to the stem’s beginning and pinch it off there. A new one will soon bloom in its place. Not only that, they will also multiply!”

Then, there was the summer my usually quiet grandfather took center stage. I was untypically bored that visit, and he had ideas about how to distract me from Grandma’s absence from us, as she was recovering in the hospital from a recent surgery. I had already tended to the flowers while he was cleaning some tools in the garage, when he brought out a sharp-pointed double-pronged weed digger.

“Honey, I’ll give you a penny for every dandelion you root out of the yard. But, remember not to just pick them. You have to remove each one by pulling them out by their roots with this tool.”

I remember how my eyes spanned their property’s prolifically dandelion-populated ground, wondering if I was up for this challenge. Secretly, I thought the yard pretty, the yellow blossoms like a child’s polka-dotted blanket. At least I couldn’t fail at this, memories of the indoor plants’ demises at my hand freshly painful. I wouldn’t be able to drown or crisp them, starve or over-feed them, smother them, or freeze or cook them to death, I reasoned, having self-labeled myself as a plant assassin. In future years, I resorted to fancy self-watering/feeding glass globes for my indoor plants.

Stubbornly continuing my job until dusk settled in, I earned $5.00 that day! Yep! 504 dandelion carcasses went into the burn pile that night, a few of them only shadows of their former selves, me not being able to resist making wishes with breathy puffs into the fluffed ones. My yellow-stained fingers were not the same after that, but it would be worth it just to see Grandma’s pleased smile at her immaculately groomed yard. Of course, the older flowers’ puff-filled seeds had scattered to produce yet another crop of them before the summer was over.

But that would be for another visit.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 12/04/12
Oooh, your memories brought back many from my own childhood. I kept well away from the dandelions though; it was said that if you picked one you'd wet the bed! I enjoyed reading your detailed and descriptive story.
Yvonne Blake 12/04/12
Great ending! (Pssst - I like dandelions, but I'm not the one who takes care of the lawn.)
C D Swanson 12/04/12
Powerful and well done.
Thanks. God bless~
Lynda Lee Schab 12/06/12
“Slide your thumb and forefinger down from the flower all the way to the stem’s beginning and pinch it off there. A new one will soon bloom in its place. Not only that, they will also multiply!”

Love that. What a wonderful analogy of how God works in our lives. Sometimes we need to pinch something off to bloom anew - and spread that bloom to others!

Nice job!