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.


50 Comments Add yours

  1. Baglady says:

    Too beautiful, OC. When are you publishing a book?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hahaha, Baglady, I’m too busy publishing other people’s books 😉

  2. 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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank YOU, Cindy 😀

  3. footsy2 says:

    Love your posts Cin, even when they are sad….

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks, footsy2 🙂

  4. Pussycat44 says:

    What a lovely story attached to that tablecloth.

    1. theonlycin says:

      There are stories attached to almost anything, if we think about it, Pussycat44 🙂

  5. slpmartin says:

    A most lovely story…each of us can look back and find mistakes…but more precious are the memories of special days that are the seeds for tomorrow’s joys.

    1. theonlycin says:

      There is that to bear in mind, Charlie 🙂

  6. Tandy says:

    being grateful is a good way to start and end each day!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I try to live that way 🙂

  7. Oh Cin, my heart aches with you. Beautiful story, thank you for sharing, and I hope that very kind man gets a chance to read it and know how grateful you really were. xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      He never was much interested in my blog, Celia, so he will probably not read it.

      1. I’m sorry to hear that, Cin. x

      2. Sue says:

        Print a copy, put it into an envelope and pop it into his letterbox for him. I think it will be therapeutic for you to do this and important that he reads it 🙂

  8. hotlyspiced says:

    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

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s pure hell, HS, but it has become bearable, only just …

  9. adair says:

    Lovely post.That really is a beautiful table cloth.I’m sure that one day your daughter will love having it.

  10. suzicate says:

    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?

    1. theonlycin says:

      I think I’ll just print out this post and fold it up into the cloth, good idea, Suzicate.

  11. nrhatch says:

    Sorry you’re not gamboling about with them, Cin. Hard to be in earshot but not included in the revelry. 😦

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s hellish, Nancy.

  12. A beautiful heartfelt post Cindy. So sorry you still have so much pain. Sending you a love filled Eastern Cape hug.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you, Mandy xxx

  13. Beautifully written and poignant.
    *sending the hugs*

  14. Dee says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Have to keep looking forward, Dee, only thing to do 🙂

  15. Miss Chris / David's Dance says:

    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

  16. optie says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      From your lips to God’s ears, Optie. Thank you.

  17. It’s never too late to say thank you. If the opportunity arises naturally, mention that you came across it and how you appreciated it.

    D&B was not available when I lived in SA. Or, if it was, never where I lived. I love it.

    PS Bought some piccalilli yesterday!

    1. theonlycin says:

      D&B is quite trendy here at the moment. Enjoy the piccalilli 🙂

  18. Mal says:

    Amazing how one small object can evoke a truckload of memories, eh? Dear Cindy, enjoy each precious moment.. Hugs xx

  19. matron says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Matron, but I ca’t think that far ahead. For the moment I wish she’d share her teenaged years with me, I can’t even begin to thing about her wedding …

  20. Such a wonderful memory and a treasure for your daughter. What a wonderful mom you are to save it in such a special way. Hugs for you from me.

  21. Jamie Dedes says:

    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.

  22. adinparadise says:

    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.” 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Love the phrase and use it often 🙂

  23. Tammy says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, it is a soda, I expect that they fiddle with the mixture to make it sweeter. Unfortunately I threw the bottle away without reading the ingredients list.

  24. bluebee says:

    I hope you feel hope, Cin

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