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From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

I still remember the wonder of it all — seeing a shooting star blaze across a dark starry sky and having the presence of mind to tilt my face upward and whisper a wish to the heavens above. As a child, I believed in the magic of making wishes — from extinguishing all of my birthday candles with a single breath, to tossing a penny into a fountain, to pulling the long piece of a chicken’s wishbone, to blowing all the feathery seeds from the head of a dandelion.

In my mind’s eye, I see the dandelions sway in the warm Southern breeze, and I suddenly remember the feel of stiff blades of grass pressing against the soles of my bare feet as I tiptoed out to where the patch had established their colony of wishes. The dandelions were in all stages of growth and development. Some were mere leaves spread out flat in the grass, while others had shot up yellow blooms or fluffy seed pods. I crouched down and admired them all.

I often collected the dandelion’s quarter-sized yellow flowers and formed a bouquet in my tiny hands, and sometimes I carried the flowers inside the house and presented them to my mother as a love offering. Beauty thrives in such simplicity.

But I’d be lying if I suggested that my favorites were not the fuzzy seed pods. They were special — like an alien species. I plucked them up and examined them as if I were a scientist looking through the lens of a microscope. When I was done with my observation, I made a wish and puffed air toward the sphere as if exhaling the smoke from a cigarette. I watched the fluff dance and dissipate — a constellation of tiny parachutes charting new beginnings across my family’s landscape.

I don’t remember who first taught me how to make a wish upon a dandelion — probably my sister, Audrey, three years my senior, and whom I followed around like a little lost puppy much to her dismay. But it doesn’t matter who introduced me to the concept. All I know is this: I couldn’t resist their call.

“Come over here and blow on me,” they whispered in the wind like the song of sirens.

I obeyed. I’d hold the bushy orb before my face, make my wish, then blow with all my might causing the seed head to explode before me. In my youth, I wasn’t concerned about spreading weeds throughout a pristine green lawn. I was focused on this simple ceremony of innocence, a ritual that allowed me to glimpse the infinite possibilities that stretched before me. Making wishes on dandelions was, and is, a sacrament of hope.

And perhaps these strong memories and emotions that bind me to my childhood are the reason I can’t bring myself to shoot them with her- continued from page

bicides then walk away to let them wither for days to their death. I prefer digging them up (which is quite a feat since the taproot grows almost to China) because it just feels a bit more humane to me. I know that’s crazy, but it’s just how I feel.

And I often ponder why certain plants are considered “weeds.” Americans have labeled the humble dandelion with this rather coldhearted term, but in Italy and France, the plant is embraced because every part of it is edible. Europeans harvest the leaves of dandelions when they are young and tender, before they flower, and cook them into delicacies. I’ve eaten the leaves in salads, and they are quite tasty, but you can’t wish upon a leaf. You have to let it be to get the fuzzy fun part.

Collectively, throughout time, how many wishes have been made on dandelions? A million? A billion? More? What if we could hear the echoes of every single childhood wish made upon their fuzz?

So the next time you encounter a field of dandelions, don’t dismiss them as mere weeds. Instead, see them as storytellers and conduits of wishes waiting to be heard. Bend down, make a wish, and release it into the warm Southern air. For in that simple act, you become part of the timeless dance between dreams and the dandelion’s delicate seeds. You become part of a communion between the dreamer and these emissaries of hope of the botanical world. Most of all, you become young again.

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