Why Can’t Weeds Be Flowers?


Looking at life through the eyes of a child, I’ve learned to see the possibility and joy in the small, everyday things.  To search for the magic.  To believe in the magic.  It’s only as we grow older that innocent wonder abandons us.  Or do we abandon the wonder?

I remember my daughter running to me on stubby little legs with a fistful of dandelions.   Her wide smile split her face and pride glimmered in her eyes when she handed me those beautiful flowers.  To me, they were weeds.  To her, a glorious find.   Since I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’d just handed me a bunch of weeds, I thanked her and put them in a bud vase on the kitchen counter.

But something strange happened.  Every time I washed my dishes or felt the urge to gripe about cleaning the counters, those weeds stopped me cold.  Stored forever in my mind will be my daughter’s smile.  Granted, they weren’t long-stemmed red roses, but they were picked with love and devotion, and that simple act and those simple weeds taught me much about life.

When I told my son years later that dandelions and buttercups and milkweed are just weeds, he looked confused.  He asked my, “Why?” I’m sure I could have googled a bunch of scientific reasoning to back up my words, but, in the end, I ended up disagreeing with my own words. 

I think it’s an important lesson for readers and writers.  We’re meant to turn something average into something extraordinary.  Straw into gold.  Coal into diamonds.  A grain of sand into a pearl.  It’s part of the mystery of life and love and wonder. 

Turning something average into something extraordinary makes me think of my friend Erica O’Rourke’s debut novel Torn, out this month with Kensington.  In it, Mo—quiet, ordinary, unmagical Mo—will have to enter a world of raw magic to avenge her best friend’s murder and to save the world.  Not bad for an ordinary high school girl.  Oh, but the story.  The characters!  I can’t say enough great things about this new young adult book, which won RWA’s Golden Heart in 2010. 

So, what books or movies have captivated you and made you appreciate the average or sometimes overlooked?  Forrest Gump definitely springs to mind.  You can’t get much more average than Forrest…Forrest Gump. 

If you can’t think of a movie or book that takes the average and makes it extraordinary, what about the small, overlooked things that bring a smile to your day?  Like my flowers.  My dandelions.  Because one woman’s weed is another woman’s flower.  I learned that much, at least.  Another thing I learned while researching flowers and weeds is that it truly all depends on WHERE it’s located.  Dandelions on the side of the road are beautiful.  Dandelions in a perfectly manicured front lawn?  Not so much. 

The moral of Kim’s rambling blog today? Plant your ideas—whether they’re found in books or a worldview—in the right places so that others can fully appreciate them!

16 thoughts on “Why Can’t Weeds Be Flowers?

  1. Kim,
    In our country, you can’t get more special than a long-stemmed rose, while carnations are second-class flowers. In Thailand, it is the exact opposite. Roses are common, everyday flowers, but if you really want to impress a girl, you bring her carnations. It all has to do with availability and price, and somehow, the more expensive a flower is, the more beautiful it becomes.
    I remember being astounded when I learned this. Doesn’t a rose by any other name smell just as sweet? And shouldn’t a flower be just as beautiful, no matter the price?

    1. You’re absolutely right! Price does drive the value, but what about all the other considerations? Roses wilt much faster than carnations. I love when I get carnations because they LAST FOREVER! When my kids were little, we would buy white ones and then snip the ends and put them in water with different color food coloring to watch them change colors. I had forgotten all about that…see what I mean? Appreciate the little things!

  2. What a lovely post, Kim. What would always get me was when my daughters would sing. Their songs were cute and innocent and just made life that much sweeter. They’d run around in the back yard singing at the top of their lungs, and I just knew our neighbors were cringing at the hullabaloo, but I loved it.

    They still sing, but now they shake their money maker to the beat and make me dance with them. I still love it.

    1. I love that, Shea! My kids and I always dance around the kitchen, and I know my neighbors are probably horrified by the racket, but I truly don’t care! My kids have no idea that all my 70s music is older than their teeny bopper stuff. LOL. But, oh! It’s the best music for dancing! Who can’t sing at the top of their lungs to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”?
      In the end, our kids will remember that they had fun, and neighbors will move away… 🙂

  3. Lovely post, Kim! The first book that comes to mind of an ordinary character doing the extraordinary is Harry Potter. 🙂 As for my take on dandelions, I was a member of an organic vegetable co-op for a number of years and every two weeks we’d receive a giant basket of veggies with everything from ordinary carrots to the more exotic…epazote or purple potatoes. One week our “exotic” selection was dandelion greens, which looked exactly like the ones growing in my backyard!

    1. Shelley,
      Thanks for stopping by. Dandelions are one of the least appreciated “flowers” out there. There’s so much to recommend them. Their cute and easily picked and kids will always pop off their heads :-). You can’t make a wish and blow on just any flower and have them scatter the seeds in the breeze. The leaves are used in salads, and they are also used medicinally. I say dandelions are awesome.

  4. This blog brings to mind summers with my grandparents in Northern Michigan. We would go out to their wooded property and hunt for morel mushrooms. If anyone has seen a morel it’s a spongy looking brown/gray fungi found at the base of trees. We would collect grocery bags full of these, bring them home, slice them, dry them on old window screens and bag them in bread bags or gallon sized jars to use later in soups, fried in flour, scrambled in eggs, etc.
    It wasn’t until in my late twenties I was asking a grocer about them for a recipe–he thought I was insane! Do you know how expensive morels are? No, we used to go pick them out in the woods. A few years later I found a small package, dried, not even an ounce worth for $10! I went to Emerils in New Orleans and asked the chef (he was using some in a recipe) and he told me they were a true delicacy and rare to find.

    I can’t believe I took for granted something I thought was a common, everyday staple only to find out I had been feasting like a King most of my childhood. B)

    1. Loni,
      How cool that you did end up discovering your wonderful find! It just goes to show that sometimes we don’t appreciate something until we realize its value. Sad but true. I notice with almost all of these entries that childhood memories are mixed up with learning to appreciate the simple things in life. That seems fitting.

  5. Hi, Kim! Great post. Actually, dandelions are very well regarded in the world of herbal medicine–I think the leaves are used as a liver-cleanser. Tastes disgusting, though. Trust me. 🙂

    1. I’ll take your word on that, Vanessa. There’s also tea that’s used from dandelions. One stop shopping, those darn dandelions. LOL.

  6. Hi Kim,
    Something average and overlooked that I strangely seem to appreciate are struggling worms! Oh my gosh, I know I have issues but you know those stragglers who always get caught in the middle of a hot, dry sidewalk after the rains with no chance of making it to the other side on their own? My heart goes out to them and whenever I see one, I find a twig and give them a lift to the nearby grass.
    And dandelion bouquets are the best!

    1. Carlene,
      I laughed when I read this. I, too, am a rescuer of the struggling worms. Especially after reading Diary of a Worm with my kids…:-). I don’t particularly like to touch them, but I do slide leaves and sticks under them, balance them and move them quickly to the grass.
      Then after all my hard work rescuing them, my son will feed them to the baby birds under our deck. Poor worms don’t stand a chance.

  7. I love this post! It reminds me so much of my Nunnie (96 year old grandmother). When I was little I used to always pick dandelions and violets and bring them to Nunnie. She dutifully put them in vases in her kitchen. She told me recently how she used to just love that because I was so proud!

    I also used to “decorate” her house by putting tissues on everything – but that is neither here nor there. 😉

    1. God loves the Nunnies of the world! They always manage to make us feel special and make our efforts worthwhile. As adults, we now realize and fully appreciate it.
      Oh, the things I could decorate with tissues, Kerri! I used to make barbie clothes with tissues and tape and make little beds with Kleenex boxes. My little pillows were adorable. Who needs $10 Barbie designer outfits? I also used to make little flowers out of tissues and bleed the magic markers onto them to make designs. We Pittsburgh girls are tissue talented. Did you ever use them to stuff anything else??? LOL.

  8. Kimberly, you brought a smile to my face with this post. I love it when my kids or my husband bring me flowers, whether it is a day lily from the side of the road or a dandelion from the yard. Weeds are just something growing where you think it shouldn’t. For me, it is finding something unexpected along the path that makes it special.

    1. Dana,
      I agree completely. When I was reading about the differences between weeds and flowers, pretty much everyone agreed that it’s all about location, location, location. 🙂 If you find beautiful roses growing in the middle of your tomato garden, those roses become weeds. It’s all in the perspective.
      When I’m traveling in the car and drive past a median covered with wild flowers, my breath stops for a minute. It never fails to make me smile–even with five kids fighting in the backseat. 🙂

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