Wednesday, June 4, 2008
What's a flower?
My parents built their own home, a two story cedar shingle on a couple acres of land. They cleared half of it, put in a garden and a greenhouse, a cabin in the back with room for four complete with an extension cord from the house and Chinese lanterns. They planted pine trees and aspen, juniper and rose bushes. Dad dug a pond for his goldfish, not like some might dig a pond for a little water feature, I'm talking like six feet deep with lily pads and wild ducks landing in it, dragonfly pattering the surface on clear days. There were bird feeders and nests throughout the trails behind the gardens, where we built burrows and forts and crawled about on the floor of the fir and spruce forest. In full bloom of summer it was not just something to see, it was something to feel; all the creatures and insects, the sounds of the birds in the trees and the rustle of leaves in the ever present Atlantic winds. As a child it filled me with a sense of the world, a world of many small beauties.
Dad was fairly picky about his lawn. He wasn't too fond of moss or clover or weeds, and he reseeded and laid topsoil in a few patches of the grass to try and get rid of the dandelions. Resilient as they are they just kept coming back, pushing their way to the surface after being sheered and turned over with a pitchfork... they came back after being mowed and rooted out, the delicate air born seeds from that one unseen on the tree line bringing forth a colony of yellow. I don't remember exactly when, but I developed an affinity for the dandelions. I never thought of them as a force to be reckoned with, just flowers that no one liked.
One summer, I'm not sure which, Dad turned to herbicide, a powder he mixed with water and put in a green canister with a hand pump on top to pressurize the contents -- you probably know the kind I mean. He went about spraying the flowers and an idea jumped in my mind. Later that evening I went out to the shed and got the cannister. I poured out all the poison and refilled it with fertilizer and the water he used for the tomatoes. I don't think he knew what to make of the population explosion after he'd sprayed a few more times. He gave up on herbicides after that and still every summer dandelions bloom in the yard, the misunderstood flower.