A Dandelion Life

If you didn’t already know, the dandelion is the official flower of the military child. It is said that like a dandelion, our children blow with the wind and bloom where they are planted.

I like this image. I like the idea that wind, often seen as a force of destruction, also carries in its arms new seeds to new places, creating new life. It paints a pretty picture for me and it makes me feel better about our multiple relocations as a military family.

If I may, however, I’d like to extend this comparison to more than just the military child but to the military wife as well. For we, too, are blown from place to place and land somewhere new each time.

But there is more to this comparison. I have never given it much thought beyond the surface idea, but if you’ll humour me for a moment, let’s look a little closer.

There, in the middle of a healthy and thriving green lawn, is a dandelion. Beautiful, sunny, golden yellow – while many are eager to pull or mow these little gems, which I have been told are actually a member of the sunflower family, I have always thought them to have a kind of sunshiny beauty to them. The flower (for I will not call it a weed!) is strong and healthy. As it enters its more senior phase, it becomes grey and fluffy (hm…this metaphor is extending a little further than I had anticipated!). It cannot stay where it has been, for its time there is done. But the dandelion does not simply shrivel up and die – instead, it goes to seed. Then it must wait for a force outside of itself to decide when it will carry these seeds and where it will blow them. The dandelion has no say but instead it hunkers down and hangs on tight and relies on the wind to take it somewhere worth growing and blooming again.

And the wind does.

When it arrives at its new place, the tiny seed does not become a new flower right away. It must make its way to fertile soil and hope that there will be sufficient rain and sun. Much goes on below the surface of the ground that will never be visible to anyone else. Imagine the moments the seed becomes embedded in the soil, and the roots that first must grow, stretching into the earth, taking hold before you will see any growth at all upon the grassy layer. Only then, after some time and the right conditions and sheer determination, will it begin to flourish above the ground. It grows, a green stem, up to the sky as high as it can reach. A bud forms and then opens and the dandelion is once again strong and bright and yellow and beautiful.

It never knows how long it will stay there like this. It may age and mature and blow just to another spot a mere several grass blades away. This is what the dandelion likes best; to grow and truly take root again and again in the same yard. The soil is the same, the conditions familiar – it doesn’t take much effort or time for the dandelion to regrow here.

But at any time, the wind could decide that a further journey is required. And so once again she, our lovely little dandelion, must put all her faith in the winds of the universe that they know best what her journey must be. She must lay down her plan for herself and surrender herself to the powers of the wind, hoping to stay put but knowing that isn’t the life she has chosen.

And on days like this one, where the dandelion feels small and vulnerable, she must remember that she is only in the brand new phase of implanting herself into the soil. She must recall what the past has taught her: she cannot bloom above the surface until her roots are strong below her. And when the dandelion looks around the yard and sees but a few sparse companions instead of the thousands of fellow flowers she left behind, she must remind herself that each time the wind carries her far, far away, it also leaves seeds and strength and memories and lessons right where she was. And in this way, she is not only where she grows now but in every yard she has ever grown. And that comforts her although it doesn’t take the sting out of another new journey.

Our dandelion imagines her old pasture. Are the flowers there the same ones she left behind? Do they notice she is gone or has another dandelion filled the spot she once claimed as her own?

Next time you see a dandelion, before you pick it or spray it or do what you feel you must, take a moment to appreciate its tiny golden beauty and consider what has had to have transpired for it to be there, blooming in your yard, in the first place.

Take care,
Mel a.k.a the newly transplanted dandelion.

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