Dandelions and Borage



The other day I was out in the front yard battling some dandelion for territory on behalf of the borage. I confess I was not in a great mood. My to-dlist is longer than the rake handle, and the faster I work the further I seem to fall behind. Last week I didn’t even get to write a short story. The kids need to get ready for their next activity, dishes pile up, and dreams of a writing conference dance (or loom—depending on the day) on the horizon. There is so much work to do.

Gardening, like most work, can be a thankless thing that promises an eventual reward to the loyal. Creaking in my knees and the grunts that come with getting up from the ground these days have made me want to swap my loyalty for a hammock and an iced tea. But my poor neighbors have put up with my landscape skills long enough. And the borage really needs some breathing room.
I wedged my garden knife beneath the collar of dandelion leaves and leveraged as much of the roots out of the ground as I could. There’s really no winning with dandelions, only patience.

When I popped it up and tossed the offending plant onto the path to my door, it made a “splorch-clink” sound. That caught my attention because dandelions usually make more of a “plop.”

There were a candle holder and some kind of smashed confection beneath the clay-speckled root-ball of the dandelion.  I looked around, searching for the disaster's owner. When I saw no one, I wondered if this was some foolish prank, which I did not have time for. 

I set down my knife and scooted closer to inspect the mess. I righted the milk glass candlestick holder. I sifted the scraps and found they were the remnants of a miniature cake. 

A little voice came from somewhere near the lace-leaf maple. “Oh, no!”

When I looked up, the first thing I noticed was the bright blue ankle-length dress that the sprite wore over her purplish frame. Now, having been visited by fairies before, I was not as frightened this time. It didn't take me nearly as long to remember my manners.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the sprite. “I think I ruined your cake.”

She flitted from the tree over onto the path to inspect the damage more closely. The concern on her face reminded me of someone beside the road surveying an engine after a car accident, helpless to repair the loss.

“Thorough in all things, you’ve quite destroyed it,” she said, running her fingers through the short white wiry hairs on her head. Her posture slumped a little.

I had wasted enough time on whatever foolishness this was. "Well, if you didn't want it crushed, you shouldn't have left it in a walkway."

Her eyes widened and her bottom lip popped forward as she drooped her head. "I... made it for you. It's for taking care of my flower." She barely moved as she lifted a slender finger and aimed it directly at the borage. "I.::sniff::.. I was trying to surprise you."

To my extensive list of faults, I offer one more. That is the inability to describe the vast degree to which I felt like a complete and utter jerk.

I dropped my gaze. "I'm so sorry. It's lovely."

And it really was. I scooped the confection up to look at it more slowly. My carelessly flung weed had landed right on top of the most intricate petit four I have ever seen. Layers of buttercream and sponge alternated with a delicate stream of spring berry jam. Ribbons of sugar had flourished the top. The whole design had culminated in two periwinkle-blue star-shaped flowers before I destroyed it. Clay, grit, and debris poked into the layers and spoiled the appearance of the buttercream. The delicacy and care with which she made it humbled me. How had I missed it the first time?

I looked up at the sprite who smiled at me from behind the lace-leaf maple.

I popped the beautiful little confection in my mouth, dirt and all, which did little to hurt the flavor. It was too good to be ruined. I swallowed and smiled at the borage fairy, whose face now wore a much brighter countenance on cheeks that were slightly more pink than their former purple. 

"Though I am no match for your skill, it would delight me if you would join me for a cup of tea." I said, discarding my knife next to the path. "tea and company must follow such an excellent petit four. Please."

Her chin lifted, "I'd love to!" then she hesitated. "If you're not too busy?"

"The weeds will still be here when I get back." I shrugged, then gestured to the front door.

She floated beside me as I walked inside, then said, "There's no winning with dandelions, you know, only patience."



If you want to keep reading you can check out some of my other short stories in this series:











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