My Words: Remembering dandelions

Growing up in Illinois, I was surrounded by dandelions and fireflies. I have actively missed fireflies, having raised three kids in a land without tiny lanterns lighting up the evening hours. I hadn’t noticed the lack of dandelions until last week.

It took me 25 years to notice that although Northwest Florida has some of the most beautiful wildflowers I have ever seen, they don’t have as many of the soft yellow sunbursts of my childhood.

In Illinois, dandelions are the homeowner’s equivalent of fire ants. You don’t choose them. They choose you. You’re not sure why or how or what the next steps would be to stop inviting them to your yard party. On their long straw-like stems, filled with a milky solution, the flowers bob in the sunshine and the wind until they dry up and turn into wild-haired puffballs of winged seeds.

Side by side in a yard just a few blocks away was one of each – a blossom and a puffball.

I almost stopped walking and plucked the puffball to send its floating seeds into the winds.

Dandelions had the power to give your wishes wings, according to the legends of childhood. I’d be lying if I said I remembered any of those wishes. I can guess, though. I probably wished that my brother would get in trouble for once, instead of me. That my Nana would come back from heaven and love me best again. That my mom would make a pan of popcorn and drizzle melted butter over it and let me watch television on a school night.

I’m sure I also wished for unlimited wishes to come true, if you can follow that circuitous child’s logic.

Childhood is a time of unedited wishing. You don’t have to tell anyone what you wished for – in fact it’s part of an unwritten code that if you share that wish, it won’t come true. Since I can’t remember my wishes, I certainly can’t remember my success rate.

But, based on a website named, my chances were better in the 60s than they seem to be now. According to this website, which I can only assume is as whimsical as wishing on a wildflower, studies have been done on whether dandelion wishes come true.

I’m not making that up. The 2018 study by the Blue Tree Experimental Research Laboratory and Dungeon concluded that modern dandelion wishes have a .0003% effectiveness rate.

“Today, blowing on a dandelion is as magical as kissing a doorknob,” the website said. They may have been making that up.

As I type these words, I realized how foolish it all sounds, and it makes me smile. We all need the magic of wishing and hoping We all need a little whimsy in our lives.

My wish for you today is that you make a wish, no matter how many years you’ve been puttering around on this earth. Close your eyes, pick a random magical moment, and make a wish. It doesn’t matter if it comes true.

All that matters is that you gave it wings.

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