I dedicate a dandelion to Anna Jarvis who, having founded Mother’s Day, spent an entire lifetime trying to undo it. Her success in 1914 quickly became overscented, oversweet, oversentimentalized by the profiteers of capitalism, and within years, she was desperate to put the cat back in the bag. Keep it simple! she railed. Boycott florists, squash the candy makers and card hawkers! Stop the commercialism! She exhausted her fortune to take back a name she couldn’t quite claim – Mother’s Day?
Jarvis wanted to honor and respect a much more complex motherhood. Rather than a delicately petalled flower, I see dandelion as Jarvis’ idea of mother. Its burst of sun-like flower is charming, and the unsung tenacity of its weed with its jagged, tooth-shaped leaf and its deeply sourced taproot where its spiritual power lies. The grit and vision of la durée, the everyday beauty of continuity, is packed into its whole. It is “toothy” — dandelion is a corruption of the French “dents du lion.” The feminine becomes gritty, determined, a fighter, what some might see as masculine energy while the masculine is often fragile. Such are the truths in paradox.
Of course, we can spy beauty in our mothers and sidewalk flowers often — like seeing dandelion when the afternoon sun comes glancing over rooftops and catches it in its jewel light. I see wildness in its simplicity. I see an outflow, a pouring of generosity. I am never one to scorn excess! All the flowers I got this year have amazed me. So many beauties! In the spirit of both/and, I gather the whole thing and offer it in thanks.