THE DANDELION MASSACRE

Growing up in rural western Pennsylvania was not fun, not with my family. My father was a type A, rageaholic who enjoyed hunting and fishing and letting his family know he was dominate in every way in domestic life. There were beatings with a white belt, that hung prominently in the home, like an albatross at the doorway, passage to fury. My siblings and I were not allowed to spend the days playing in the summer. We were given lists of chores left on brown paper grocery bags on the kitchen table, by a man who meant business. One of my chores was to rid his large perfect yard of dandelions.
You had to use the perfect knife ” a pairy knife” he would say. Don’t try just picking the head off the dandelion, he knew you had done a substandard job. Don’t leave a big hole in the ground, when you used the pairy knife, that could earn a head slap and endless bereavements. Collect the murdered dandelions with a paper bag, and deposit them over the hill, so he could later supervise the job. He would patrol the lawn, me standing nervously in the background, he would squint his eyes, make faces to show his disapproval, that  I had left behind a leaf, a mark, or one stray dandelion turned fuzzy, bobbing in the wind, about to spread its seeds and cause an epidemic. There would be a melt down on a nuclear level, when I had failed at my dandelion duties. I always thought I would grow up and have a yard full of sunny yellow dandelions. I had learned their greens were good food, the flowers could be turned to wine. When I grew up and had my own yard, I would greet the dandelions all summer, and make my children worship them, make garlands for their hair, blow their seeds all over the yard, make wine, eat them at lunch, and celebrate the weed my father had loathed the existence of, as much as I believed he loathed mine.

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