Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bloom (11/22/12)
TITLE: Cotton-Candy Dandies
By Marlene Bonney
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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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