The season changed in Mercyburg this weekend. A violent thunderstorm with tornadoes marked the end of the previous season and the beginning of the next, which is tornado season. Mercyburg exists within the weather vortex known as Tornado Alley. The season everyone else associates with bunnies and planting is not storybook idyllic here. But there is a unique calm after a storm passes, before the next front approaches, and those moments are nice. Everything is drippy and breathy and soft around the edges.
Mercyburgers creep out of their shelters and look around for wind damage and examine floodwater gouges and sometimes behold surprises. Baby squirrels hurled from a nest. Sinkholes. Objects deposited far from their origins. But also things not noticed before the sirens, such as the first dandelion of the year.
I am the only one I know who likes dandelions in her yard. It’s mostly just because I love the color so much. Some colors are so deeply saturated it feels like we can jump into them. Dandelion yellow is one of those colors. I imagine jumping up and into the dandelion, swooping down one of those petal-slide chutes into the most deeply profound yellow. Deep yellow wisdom. Yellow mysteries. Yellow secrets. Immersive yellow. The weight of yellow. The sound of yellow. Supernatural yellow. Yes, I’d either have to shrink or the dandelion would have to swell but these feats are effortless in the imagination.
This one wasn’t glowing quite as brilliantly because the clouds had not receded yet. But the sun would soon intensify that hypnotic yellow. That beckoning yellow. Sexy in simplicity and the implied naughtiness of being such a pretty weed. The Chef will rush to eradicate this dandy-lioness before she has a chance to go to seed, so I will miss the pleasure of blowing off the tiny umbrella pods with airborne wishes. My kidhood yards were always rife with dandelions. Lawn pride was a foreign concept to us. Nice lawns were for mean neighbors. Dandelions marked the homes where yards were playgrounds, not showgrounds. Memories of those milky stems and silken bubble heads are tinted Polaroids in a Viewmaster. Ka-chunk. Ka-chunk.
Remember how if you picked them too soon they wouldn’t release and fly? Recognizing the ideal amount of opacity in the fluff was key to choosing a blower head versus a clinger head. Remember telling the younger kids not to waste the ones which weren’t ready yet? And then hustling over to inspect when they’d yell to you, “Is this one ready yet?” Dandelion husbandry. But for your baby brother the pleasure was in the picking and then waddling up to present them to you in chubby-fisted gallantry. For that you don’t rebuke. Ka-chunk. Sniff. Ka-chunk.
Remember when it seemed like baby brothers were created just so you’d always have another human dedicated to amplifying your happiness? Baby brothers are how you knew there was a such thing as fairy godmothers. All of my unpaid karma is vise grip adult regret over every time teenage Me yelled at him or told him to go away. Knife-belly assholery. Every dandelion wish from now until the end of my days will be prayers for forgiveness. All big sisters are bitches for a while. Deep yellow acknowledgement that I’m too old for growing pains and yet it still hurts. Deep yellow truth that sibling husbandry is not relegated to the past. Stop, drop, and connect, y’all.