By Susan Cleveland

At daybreak, Momma flower gently rubbed the part of her midsection where her baby was beginning to grow. It wasn’t a full bud yet: more like a small green nub.

“Here comes the dawn, little one. I think that’s a good name for you: a dandelion named Dawn. You’ll be my Dawn-delion. Many humans say we’re useless weeds, but you mean the world to me.”

During the next few weeks, while the frost was leaving the ground and Winter was making preparations to say farewell, her baby grew. She envisioned small yellow petals jutting out from the top of a sturdy green stem, a gift from father’s side of the family.

In the meantime, Momma flower rested in the sunshine, basking in its warmth.

In the garden, other parents were also getting ready to welcome their new bundles of joy, including Mrs. Daisy May, Miss Rosie Thorn, and the Tulip Twins. Even old Mrs. Carnation was expecting. Luckily, they had a caring human who tended to their needs.

Elizabeth, as they’d heard the neighbors call her, covered the awaiting mothers each evening with a thick plastic blanket to keep them safe, then she’d set it aside in the morning to let the ladies breathe in the delicate scent of nature. A nutrient-rich breakfast had been mixed into their soil not long ago, with a thin layer of melting snow placed between the rows to quench their thirst.

At high-noon, when the sun shone directly overhead, they would stand straight and tall, absorbing Vitamin D and heat. Fully open to receiving any assistance the planet had to offer, the Flower Family was most grateful.

***

“Hello, my beauties!” Elizabeth called out after closing her car door. “I’ll come see you after I change out of my work clothes. Just give me a few minutes.”

The sun had begun its descent a few hours ago and now hung low in the sky. There was still enough light to see by, and even though the air was still a bit crisp, all of the flowers were eager to have another visit with their “Human.”

Wearing yoga pants and a heavy sweater, Elizabeth carefully made her way down the front stairs with a canvas folding chair in one hand and a hot cup of tea in the other.

“Phew, what a day!” She announced with a yawn. “It was non-stop. The poor waitresses out front were run off of their feet. I prepared so many lunch-specials that I started to wish I could stick a couple of chicken-wings to my shoulders and fly away!” 

Tilting her head to one side, Elizabeth’s dark curls bounced. “At least you guys get to live in a gated community: less intrusion that way. Now, tell me about your day.” She focused all of her attention on her flowers and remained quiet for a couple of minutes, as if listening to what they had to say.

Prompted by her heart, she replied. “A couple of bees stopped by to pollinate? I’m glad to hear you had some company! Yes, I’m sure they treated you much better than that pesky raccoon did last Fall. You know, I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot lately.” Looking directly at the dandelions, she asked. “Would you like me to tell you why?”

Four rows of flower-faces leaned in, courtesy of a gentle breeze that was pushing them forward.

She took a few sips of tea and smiled. “Okay, I will.”

***

Swaying back and forth, the stems and petals looked like they were having a happy little dance party, complete with nearby wind-chimes for music.

“Do you remember when I told you last month that I submitted a short-story I’d written? Well, I received an email this morning saying it had been rejected. I didn’t tell you about it earlier because I didn’t want to start your day off with the sad news.” She took a moment to rub the back of her neck, then continued. “After work, I stopped at the grocery store for a few things and saw a child down in the cereal isle. He was about three years old and was throwing the biggest tantrum I’ve ever seen. There he was, rolling on the floor and screaming like a banshee! Do you want to know why he was behaving that way?”

Pausing to drain the rest of the tea, Elizabeth set her cup on the ground. She eased out of her chair and began strolling around the perimeter of the garden. No matter which side she was on, the flowers appeared to follow her with their colorful little heads, as if enthralled with her story and wanting to hear more.

“It was because his mother had told him he couldn’t have something. His face was bright red from crying so hard. That got me to thinking that it’s not always good to get everything we want. Because then we’d expect it, all the time.”

A few of the flowers drooped, whether from being upset or bowing in agreement, she wasn’t sure.

“Do you know what else might happen if we got everything we wanted? We’d probably wouldn’t be as creative. When I was young, my mother used to say “Elizabeth, I became a painter because my walls were bare and I couldn’t afford a Rembrandt.’ I didn’t know what she meant by that back then.”

She stopped to watch the sun as it began to turn that beautiful reddish-gold that indicates an exceptionally glorious sunset.

After a few moments, she turned from where she stood and began walking around the flowerbed again. “You know, having my story rejected doesn’t bother me as much now. It actually makes me more determined to work on my writing.”

Folding her legs, Elizabeth sat down. She stretched one arm out over her garden and gently patted the tops of a few flowers. “I think I know how the dandelions feel. You’re often rejected, too, aren’t you?”

Standing back up, Elizabeth brushed off the back of her pants. “Those are the kind of things that make us strong, right? Don’t worry: you are all welcome to keep living in my garden as long as you like. Have a pleasant evening, ladies.”

***

At the same time a Spring Robin began singing the next morning, the first petal burst forth on the baby Dawn-delion.

Susan Cleveland is a freelance writer who lives in Atlantic Canada. Her stories have been published in the Scarlet Leaf Review, and in the “In The Fog” anthologies with Partridge Island Publishing. She works part-time as a Voice-over Artist for a local radio station. When she’s not writing, Ms. Cleveland enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, being walked by her dog, and investigating the magical healing powers of chocolate-chip cookies

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