“If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter, floating a few feet above a field somewhere, people would come from everywhere to marvel at it.”
On Sunday, Lily surprised her mother with a large bouquet of dandelions. On Monday, it was a tuft of clovers. Tuesday, a sprinkling of bluebells. Wednesday, some slender speedwell, Thursday, an offering of foxglove, Friday, a handful of oxalis, and Saturday, a large bunch of forget-me-nots. All of these blossoms lovingly given to Lily’s mother with enthusiasm and delight, until–by Saturday night–the Olson’s kitchen table was filled with vases and colors.
These were all flowering “weeds” that could be found in patches here and there on the Olson’s farm, and Lily’s mother–a diligent gardener–was used to spending many summer hours removing these exact plants from her yard. Now, to her dismay and amusement, each one of them held a brand new place of honor in her home.
But on the following Sunday, as the world came back to life, Lily’s mother rose early to follow her normal routine. She stretched as she got out of bed, pulled on gardening clothes that she’d laid out the night before, made some coffee while listening to the birds, then went outside where a wheelbarrow and gardening gloves were waiting for her. An hour later, Grandpa found Lily’s mother on her knees in one of the many flower gardens, staring off into the distance at what appeared to be nothing.
“Liza?” Grandpa said. “You okay?”
“I can’t seem to do it today, Dad,” she sighed, shaking her head. “All week, Lily’s brought me bouquets of…of weeds! These weeds! And she’s been so happy to have been able to give me something bright and cheerful for the kitchen! And now I’m supposed to just pull them all out? When all I can see when I look at these weeds is Lily’s smiling face?”
Grandpa paused, rocking back and forth on his feet. “What makes them a weed, exactly? Did someone tell you that they’re weeds?”
“Well…because they’re all pests, Dad, that’s why. All of them. Their flowers can be pretty, I realize, but they take over everything, and they grow everywhere.”
“But yet, they can be beautiful, and can add a rainbow of color to your yard.”
“Well, yes, but…”
Grandpa knelt down and helped himself to his daughter’s cold cup of coffee. “The only difference between a flower and a weed, my love, is your perception of what is and what isn’t. Lily sees roses and dahlias and marigolds, while you see invaders taking over your garden. It’s a simple matter of judgment, Liza, that’s all. You just have to decide where you stand on the issue.”
Lily’s mother nodded, focusing on a bee that had landed on a dandelion. Several moments passed by while father and daughter remained silent. The rooster in the barn stated his case about this issue, the wind at the top of the trees gave gentle encouragement to see things in a new way, the heat from the sun’s early rays birthed unique, never-before-considered thoughts, and the birds singing nearby became a chorus of loving applause. Finally, leaning forward, Lily’s mother picked some dandelions, some forget-me-nots and some clover. Turning to her father, she offered her bouquet up to him.
“Flowers for your room, Dad?”
Grandpa winked. He nodded. He smiled. “That’s my girl,” he eventually said. “And, yes, Liza…don’t mind if I do.”
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