“The audacious hope of rooted things…” – Cynthia Bond
There’s optimism and there’s hope but distinct from both, is the wish.
The wish is uncomplicated. Unlike optimism, it’s often laser-specific. Different from a goal, it lacks a plan and is focused only on the end-result. The wish can have a complete break with reality - and often does.
It’s a want from the universe.
Nature symbolizes the hope and resilience of life. Nature also gives us an amiable and easily accessible little plant that has been empowering the wishes of children and older for centuries: the dandelion.
But how did a weed like the dandelion become a means to a wish?
First of all, he’s ancient and well-connected. A member of the sunflower family, the dandelion stems originally from Europe and Asia has a fossil record dating back about 30 million years. The Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and ancient Chinese all saw useful properties of the plant.
With over 100 species, the plant is easily found on the side of the road, in front yards and on shorelines everywhere. Originally imported as medicines and food, the plant is now a naturalized North American, being found in all 50 states and all over Canada as well as other parts of the world.
Because it can grow under severe conditions, the dandelion has been long-considered a symbol of overcoming life’s difficulties. Prior to the 19th century, people actually removed their lawns to make space for dandelions and weeds because of their use. Yep.
It was good they were well-liked because they are powerful reproducers. Recognized by its fuzzy blowballs, each dandelion head has 50 to almost 200 seeds. A single plant can produce 5,000 seeds each year.
By the Victorian era and its classism on full display, the dandelion wasn’t regarded as high-falutin’ enough to be included in the flower classification. It’s reputation as a noxious weed began to take hold.
But it was also during the 1800’s that the tradition of wishing while blowing on the dandelion puff took off. Young girls would blow and wish about romantic infatuations, each time dispersing seeds on the wind and helping future wishes take root, sometimes hundreds of yards away.
Since then, it’s expanded to all varieties of wishes.
Before we grew up and stopped wishing, we were children on playgrounds and in backyards. Which one of us hasn’t grabbed a dandelion in a desperate attempt to bend the universe to our want?
Unlike our birthday candles which come only annually and under pressure with people looking on, the dandelion wish is often private, unexpected. It’s the walking-home-from-school wish. The please-don’t-let-mom-and-dad-find-out wish. We blew for: a crush or for grades or to avoid punishment.
A wisher generally isn’t choosy.
They probably go through the same routine with stars, eyelashes, fountains or maybe the rare wishing well.
Wish is a celebration of the dandelion’s beautiful and fragile puff, inspiring a wish in all of us.
Today and for some time, the dandelion has had a PR problem. If you want the dandelion to work its magic, it helps to start appreciating it a bit more.
People will eat them but don’t want them in their yard.
Yes, it’s a weed. But only the living plant can bring the wish.
If you wished, leave the dandelions alone for a kid to happen by, and perhaps even, make a wish.
“The most fantastic magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish.” – Pinocchio