By Laura Beth Dean
As my three-year-old son, Gabriel, and I stepped outside into the ordinary spring day, I did not envision that an adventure awaited us in our ordinary backyard. Dressed for combat in holey blue jeans and a thrift store shirt, I prepared to wage war on the weeds that marred my mosaic of flowers. Corpulent gray dandelions bulged ominously like thunderheads, threatening torrential storms of seeds. I began the grueling mission of eliminating the dandelions one by one. The hard Virginia clay reluctantly yielded to the shovel's blade and released its grip on the equally stubborn roots.
Gabriel hiked to the heart of our neighbors' yard, a verdant canvas lavishly spattered with dandelions of every possible shade of yellow and white. He picked a perfectly round dandelion on the verge of exploding delightfully like fireworks on the Fourth-of-July. In dismay, I watched as he carefully carried it to me. "I picked the Daniel-lion for you to blow!" Gabriel offered generously. Honored, I managed to kneel and thank him for his thoughtfulness in giving his prized trophy to me. However, the future of the landscape hung in the balance. I grappled with several conflicting strategies and quickly settled on what I considered a clever compromise. By blowing the seeds into a nearby trashcan, I hoped to subtly avoid sabotaging my lovely lawn without harming Gabe's feelings or hampering his bigheartedness. The parachuting time bombs floated precisely into the target. When Gabriel trudged determinedly back to the neighbors' yard, I realized my miscalculation. The maneuver had gone awry.
Beaming victoriously, my boy returned with both arms outstretched. In each chubby hand he held a fluffy cotton ball of a dandelion. "Mom, it's a party! I picked a Daniel-lion for you, and one for me! Blow it!" For a moment, I battled indecision once again. Should I risk ruin, or stick to safe ground? Chivalrous eyes exuding complete confidence in my maternal love gazed into mine. Courage conquered. With hilarious abandon, we both blew. Waves of wispy, white-winged seeds scattered blissfully in the spring breeze. I imagined hearing in the distance the clear notes of a bugle sounding a dandelion reveille.
My toddler trekked valiantly back to the overgrown property. I watched his return voyage through the billowing ocean of grass. Gabriel's head bobbed cheerfully above the dandelion sea foam. Like an athlete carrying the Olympic torch, he held up yet another silvery sphere in its prime. "Let's both blow it. It's a party!" he declared exuberantly as he reached me. We laughed and partied together in the glorious golden glow of late afternoon sunshine, sowing seeds of joy borne on breath of love. The abundant crop of dandelions in our backyard would be worthwhile, for it would yield a harvest of happy memories.