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We have a yard full of dandelions, and I don’t mind a bit. Diversity is a good thing, they say, and a monoculture isn’t really all that healthy. No doubt the farmer with a stand of wheat or corn would disagree, but as long as it’s green and doesn’t have stickers it can live in my yard. I know, if I lived next door to you in town, you’d be fussing at me all summer, so be glad I don’t.

Every Mom has a soft spot for dandelions. She may have been showered with roses during courting days, but a bouquet of dandelions given with grubby little hands, and a proud smile, is forever imprinted on her heart. Displayed in a jelly jar on the kitchen windowsill, it’s a reminder that whatever else has gone awry in her day, she is truly loved.

We saw some amazing flower arrangements in greenhouses last week, but I smiled the most at our carpet of dandelions, and recalled presenting a handful to my mother as she hung clothes on the line, accepting many more from my own kids and, later on, the grandchildren.

While raising a family, I came to the realization that it’s not practical to have lovely flowerbeds if you have kids and dogs, and temporarily rearranged my priorities. My flowerbeds these days are far from picturesque, but I enjoy them.

Recently, I’ve been remembering how my grandmother always hoped her peonies would bloom for Memorial Day. We called it Decoration Day, in olden times. It was celebrated on May 30th, no matter what day of the week that fell on. Decoration Day was all about honoring fallen soldiers and our dead family members. We weren’t afraid to say the word dead, back then, and it was a solemn occasion. We kids were escorted through the cemetery, chided not to step on graves, and given the history of each person, as live flowers were placed at the headstones. There may have been a family dinner with visiting relatives, but this wasn’t a time for partying. That would come later, on Independence Day.

I miss those simple days, before someone decided to rearrange the calendar so people would get long weekends and have more opportunity to overindulge in food, drink, and questionable activities.

I’ve broken the tradition of my grandmothers, and am seldom seen in the cemetery on Memorial Day. I go off and on during the year, wander alone, reminisce, and perhaps leave a small colored stone or solar light. But the last week of May I frequent greenhouses, dig in the dirt at home, and plant pretty flowers that will bloom all summer, to remind me of those who taught me to love all the pretty flowers, including dandelions.

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