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:

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.[2] 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.



  1. Sweet! I didn’t know dandelions – considered a noxious weed here, but still beloved by children – had such lovely qualities. I wonder if we can ever be grateful enough for the small and wonderful kindnesses of strangers.
    I somehow missed notification on a few of your posts. I’m back on track now, and catching up on my reading. Thank you, Cindy!

  2. It’s so lovely the way you have been saving treasures for your daughter’s wedding. What a great story behind the tablecloth and I’m so glad you shared it. You write so well! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you to have your husband and your daughter loving life just over the fence from you. xx

  3. Indeed it is lovely linen, and I’d much prefer to wear it as a shawl than throw it on the table! What a beautiful memory…have you thought of writing a memoir of that day to place with the cloth when you give it to her?

  4. A beautiful memory you have recounted, cherish it. Things are not always how we want them at the moment, but one never knows what is planned for us in the many tomorrows to come.

  5. Ai my Cinderella. I promise it will get better with time – the poignancy will always remain.
    I must say the man did have good damn taste! That is a beautiful blanket and he did choose you afterall! He just lost his way a bit!! Lovjamadly!!! xxx

  6. OC you are a woman in a million. Many women would have disposed of anything the ex gave them but here you are saving this beautiful cloth for your daughter. I’m sorry the way things have turned out for you and hope that you will know real peace and happiness again in the near future.

  7. Those are sweet memories,from reading your post the table cloth is really special. Your daughter will be happy when she receives the wooden box on her wedding day.

  8. Lovely and sad and well-written and illustrated in the only you can do it, Cindy. Strikes me that these are the memories that make us strong and mistakes are made by all – and not at all sure there was any mistake made here – and lesson-learned and let it go. Declare your peace.

    Many blessings to you, dear Cindy.

  9. Lovely post, Cin. I was weaned on Dandelion and Burdock. 🙂 What a beautiful tablecloth, and thanks for sharing its story. We will probably never know the answer to some of life’s biggest questions.
    PS: It’s so nice to meet someone who also use the phrase, “As is wont to happen.” 🙂

  10. I’m stuck on the idea of drinking dandelion and burdock and that it is a soda? really? It is terribly bitter tea. I drank it when pregnant to reduce swelling in my legs.

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