With some of the first edible foliage and blossoming flowers of spring, dandelions have long been symbols of good things. Woven into a wedding bouquet, they are meant to be good luck for a newly married couple. When dandelions appear in dreams, they are thought to represent happy unions. They are also considered to be symbols of hope, summer and childhood. (source: voices.yahoo.com)
I dreamed about them the other night; not dandelions – wedding bouquets. I dreamed I had thousands of sweetpeas scattered around me. I was sitting on the floor and weaving them into wreaths to be hung from the bridesmaids arms. No bride featured in my dreams, but the bevy of bridesmaids were wicked little vixen who kept unraveling my wreaths as I wove them.
Too much cheese before bed, perhaps; but it did put me in mind of weddings for days and I went, on a whim, to the wooden box I started filling when my daughter was born, one which I’ve been filling with special things to give my daughter when she marries one day. The first item I lifted from the box hit me like a blow to the solar plexus; I lifted the fine fabric to my face and caught the smell of the sprigs of rosemary and lavender I’d placed in the box to guard against fishmoths.
A French tablecloth, used only once – and on that one occasion as a shawl. The story of the day it was given to me is a perfect metaphor for how we never know what turns our lives will take.
We’d taken a trip to the small Western Cape town, Franschhoek*, to attend the annual Food & Wine festival; planning a picnic of goods procured from the many stalls available. The day had dawned glorious and full of promise. I dressed myself and my toddler in light summer frocks. We picked up friends along the way and that was when we got the first inkling that things may not turn out sunny through the day, for it was obvious from their stony silence that this couple were in the midst of a quarrel.
Still, we trawled the beautiful historic town and made our purchases of bread, olives, cheese and wine and made our way to a spot of grass under an ancient tree.
And then the weather changed. Clouds loomed and a nasty little wind started blowing. My baby clung to me for warmth, while I tried to bring some cheer to the icy atmosphere between our friends. My husband, seeing that the child and I were both getting very cold, set off from one end of the town to the other in search of a clothing shop where he could buy a sweater or a poncho to keep us warm.
As is wont to happen in small towns, all the shops had closed because of the festival. The poor man walked and walked, until he came upon a stall inside the festival grounds: someone was selling authentic French kitchen bric-a-brac. Displayed amongst this woman’s wares was a tablecloth of the finest French linen; cream with the traditional burgundy embroidered edges. It cost the very earth he said when he returned and draped it around me and my child. I was, and remain, deeply impressed by his concern and generosity.
It’s a hot, hot day here today. I’m sitting looking at the piece of exquisite fabric and, as I listen to the sounds coming from over the wall, where my estranged husband and child are gamboling in the swimming pool, I wonder if one of the many mistakes I have made was to not adequately express my gratitude for that table cloth all that time ago.
*About Franschhoek (source: Wikipedia)
The valley was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (“Elephants’ corner”), so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. The name of the area soon changed to le Coin Français (“the French Corner”), and later to Franschhoek (Dutch for “French Corner”), with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, La Cotte, Cabrière, Provence, Chamonix, Dieu Donné and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms — most of which still retain their original farm houses today.