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Thursday, 03 May 2012

Dandelions and Sunflowers

By Jackie Harrison

I watched a commercial the other day showing a man trying to rid his yard of dandelions. When I saw his head circled in dandelions, it brought back some memories of my childhood.

Life was so simple then - no computers, cell phones, television and such. Children played outside or down the street without parents worrying about kidnappers and child molesters. We stayed outside except to come in to eat. Ours was a small town where neighbors looked after each other.

The outside games were usually those of pretense, although we did have our hopscotch, dodge ball and jump-rope.

As a small child, I always thought I could fly. We played a squirrel game from the tree in our yard. We hid nuts and climbed from limb to limb. When I decided I was a flying squirrel, I flapped my arms and "sailed" down across a fence before I hit the ground.

My mother rushed out for punishment but when she saw the blood on my back, her anger turned to consolation.

Cowboys and Indians was one of our favorite games. It was easy to find bird feathers for our hair, build teepees and cover old jars with clay.

Tarzan was another favorite game. We found strong vines and used them to swing over a little "branch" to the other side. I remember my sister swinging over a branch and falling in. We made her take off her clothes so we could hang them up to dry before going home where we might face punishment.

As we aged, we loved to pretend we were movie stars. I always hurried to name mine first before anyone else had a chance. I would usually say, "I choose Jennifer Jones." Sometimes we would also choose our movie star boyfriends.

I must embarrassedly admit that we girls spent a lot of time talking about and writing in our diaries about boys when we reached the fifth or sixth grade in school.

I remember sitting in a field of sunflowers with my girlfriends. We snapped off flowers with our fingers and began plucking the petals while we repeated after each pluck, "He loves me; he loves me not." This was a search to see if our "boyfriends" loved us.

If the answer came back no, we picked another flower and plucked petals until we got the answer we wanted - or we picked another boy.

Dandelions were fun, too. We tried to find the "ripe" ones, those in full bloom and a little aged. We made a wish before we blew the white, wispy snowflake blossoms, hoping all the little wisps would float away with our puff of air. If all the blossoms did not blow away with one breath, our wish would not come true.

We searched for small bird feathers or soft fuzzy weeds to use as ticklers. We took turns closing our eyes while one of us used the tickler. We secretly named a different boy at the outset for each area to be tickled - the forehead, the upper lip, the closed eyes and the throat.

When the tickler finished tickling, we told her which area tickled the most and then we announced the name of the boy. It meant that boy was thinking about us.

I often wonder what our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with all their impersonal electrical gadgets, sophisticated toys and structured activities are missing these days.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Your story brought up similar memories from my youth including the uses for dandelions and daisies. It would be interesting to know what our grandchildren remember when they reach our age. Will they have personalized the electronic experiences remembering the facebook friends they met on line? Will they be excited with the memories of the continued conversations they maintain with old schoolmates spread all over the globe? Will they wonder how their grandparents stood not knowing how to use the computer to obtain unlimited knowledge in minutes? Or the challenge of games like checkers, monopoly and chess they played as youngsters and continue as elders with people living on the other side of the world?
Or will they, like us, remember the simpler, non-electronic involved activities handed down in the family or schools?
You raise an interesting question with your story.
Michigan Grandma

What great memories. I remember lying in cool clover looking for the coveted 4-leaf clover or making chains of flowers. I also wonder what kids of today will remember of their childhoods. It appears to be so impersonal to me.

I loved your remembrances;all those wonderful games we played like Red Rover, but today's children have their own ways of entertainment and who is to say they are missing anything; it's just different.

I wish my kids played this way, as I remember when I was a kid. No matter how much I kick them outside, it just isn't the same as what we've done as children. Great blog.

I enjoyed your memories but think I put a little too much of myself into the reading.

As I read about the dandelions and how you blew the white,wispy blossoms away,I started to sneeze and I sneezed a few more times before I finished your story.

I loved it though. Nicely written and memory filled...

A very nice remembrance of how important simple things are.You actually painted a picture with words. I found myself in that field although I wasn't sneexing (very cute response from last reader to post a comment).

Very Nice story. I think dandelions are a pretty little flower, and I never could understand the genocidal extremes people go through to eliminate them from their lawns. What would we like our children to remember? Pouring poison on the ground to secure a monoculture where every blade of grass is the same color, texture,and size? Or let the children grow, like the weeds grow, with a blending of dandelions, bluebells, clover, and any little flower God chooses to place in their path.

A very nice remembrance of how important simple things are.You actually painted a picture with words. I found myself in that field although I wasn't sneexing

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