Dandelions and Mother’s Day

posted in: Poetry, Family | 0

When my daughter was maybe five or six, we would walk out of Prospect Park in southeast Minneapolis, cross the bridge over Highway 94, and reach our side of the Mississippi. Since the river runs north/south there before it bends east at Fort Snelling, we’d have the afternoon sun in our eyes as it slowly dipped down the western sky behind most of MInneapolis.

“May is Mary’s month,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins from his Catholic Irish perspective, but in our upper Midwest, May is dandelion month and my daughter would pick and pick until she had an enormous bouquet. “Like a bride gone wild,” I wrote in a poem then. “No one can make her stop.”

When did we lose that childhood abandon, that love of the bright golden face studding our yards, making a yellow picnic along our highways? “Dent de lion,” or teeth of the lion for its jagged, deeply indented leaves. Though not originally native to North America, dandelions were brought from Europe by immigrant ancestors to provide habitat for imported bees. They’re one of our most successful transplants. Impossible to fully eradicate, their taproot goes so deep into the soil that you’d almost have to dig down a basement’s depth to remove it entirely. Even with only a smidgen left, the root will regenerate. How bout that for a mother’s love?

Like a mother’s love, the taproot goes deep. I’ve witnessed mother’s love in myself, apparently subsiding with the daughter’s maturing, but then in a crisis reasserting itself, perennial as that bright disk all around us. The reason May is Mary glorified? Gerard Manley Hopkins answers:
All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.
From “The May Magnificat.”

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