I'm happy to admit I'm not the best gardener in the world. I try to do a good impression of a good gardener, by pulling up things that look like weeds (might not be) but meanwhile I am often failing miserably at remembering to water some plants or trim (no... prune, prune!) the dead bits off others.
Anyway, it's great to have something other than my rubbish gardening skills on which to blame the appearance of our outdoor space: my love (as long as they don't buzz near my face because it freaks me out a bit) for bees. If you love bees, you do not pull up dandelions. And THAT is why our garden is full of them.
As pleased as the bees seem to be with the copious dandelion action, they are not quite as vocal about it as Ruby is. With each new appearance of a fluffy yellow cluster in the lawn, we have a great celebration.
Ruby squeals: "LOOK MUMMY! Day-e-liyans!" Then I have to go out and have a look at them with her. We gently touch their outer petals, and tell each other repeatedly what colour they are.
When we're certain we are agreed on their very yellowy yellowness, we usually go on hunt for something even better, the most precious treasure the garden is capable of providing: a dandelion gone to seed.
With their ability to entertain (what with all the blowing and puffing and spreading new dandelions to all corners of the garden), they're one of Ruby's very favourite things. Or at least they were until the other day.
To explain, we were making a quick dash to the local shop for some milk and there, in the front garden, was a very fine specimen indeed: perfectly round, not a seed out of place. I allowed Ruby to pick it (thinking we could share some dandelion love with the neighbours on our outing). She clutched it happily all the way and showed it to our friendly shopkeeper when we arrived. He was so impressed that he gave her a small lolly, which was instantly unwrapped to be devoured on the walk home.
As we were enjoying the sunny stroll, Ru became distracted by a cat she saw up ahead. She removed the lolly from her mouth to make those kissing noises which many cats find hard to resist, but the ginger tom (rather sensibly) ignored us and bolted over someone's wall. Although Ruby was disappointed, she was okay because, well, she still had her lolly...
Unfortunately, said lolly was not in the hand she raised to her mouth.
I'm not sure how I can describe the expression of a little person who expected a mouthful of sugary loveliness on a stick, but actually got a mouthful of dandelion fluff.
It took her a second to realise – in fact, I think it actually took the sight of the lolly in her hand for it to dawn on her that she had the dandelion in her mouth.
Oh, it was a picture. Through the tears (mine, from laughter - terrible mother, I know - and hers from horror) we managed, over the course of the next few minutes, to scrape most of the seeds from her protruding tongue. Then I carried her home and gave her a drink to swill the rest away.
It's been raining a lot since the dandelolly incident, so I haven't yet seen whether Ru has been put off her job as chief weed cultivator. I do wonder if she might forgiven and forgotten already: I found the dandelion stalk (which was brought home despite the trouble it caused) plopped into a vase full of daffodils I had on the kitchen table.
Then again, with all its yellowness long gone and having been sucked (literally) dry of its life force, perhaps she was just trying to humiliate it.