On this blog page, author Mary C. Woolling posts an ongoing series of her essays showcasing the positives of life.

New essays are added often. You are cordially invited to become a regular reader. Also, please feel free to share this site with your family and friends via the “Tell a Friend” link, located in the right-hand column below.

Comments on Mary's essays are most welcome. Simply click on the “Post Comments” link appearing at the end of each essay, and share your thoughts.

If you'd like to contact Mary, you may do so at mary@herestolife.us

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy Fourth of July

The flag is just as bright today as ever in the past –
Eyes are just as misty when on their banner cast,
Hearts are just as brave as on the day some centuries ago –
When fighting was igniting and freedom stole the show.

Undimmed by Deedy Woolling Coble, 1957

Here’s to you, my wonderful Aunt Deedy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Write It Down!

When my father was in active medical practice, beginning back in the 1950s, long before the days of answering machines and voice mail, doctors routinely employed the services of what was called the Medical Exchange. During off-hours, when patients could not reach their doctor at his office, they would call this glorified switchboard and leave a message.

The lady who took the messages was a Mrs. Kendrick, who had been with the service for many years. When the doctors would later call in to retrieve their messages, Mrs. Kendrick would always insist, “Write it down! Write it down!” She wished to emphasize that our short-term memories can be fleeting and fallible.

We may think that we shall always be able to recall life’s details with full accuracy even after lapses of time, but Mrs. Kendrick knew better. Most probably early in her career she had received many call backs from doctors, asking, “On that telephone number you gave me . . . did you say 341? Or 321?” Or, “Was that patient’s name War-ren or War-den?” The longsuffering Mrs. Kendrick would sigh and patiently repeat the information, along with the admonition “Write it down! Write it down!”

Throughout our lives, we experience many memorable events. We also have some rather profound ideas. Things we wish to remember always, but sometimes the exact details of which escape us. If you have special tales and insights you wish to keep for posterity, write them down! Now. While the facts are still fresh in your mind.

What are you most grateful for in your life right now? Where do you find comfort and peace for your journey? Who are the individuals who make your heart go pitter-pat? Whose presence sustains you? Write it down. Tell your story.

I have discovered that much of what I wish to say to the world is brought out simply through the act of remembering and then writing those thoughts down. It’s kind of amazing, actually. I often see my work coalesce on paper right in front of my eyes, even before I consciously realize where my thoughts are taking me.

I’m reminded of the story of the little child in Kindergarten who was intently sketching a picture one day. He was deep in concentration on his work when someone asked him, “What are you drawing?” The little boy, with a rather exasperated tone, replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t finished it yet.”

I venture to say that every one of you has recollections and perspectives running around in your head that are definitely worth sharing with others. I encourage you to grab a pen and a pad of paper, put on your thinking cap, and let your thoughts flow.

As Mrs. Kendrick would say, write it down!

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Ode to the Dandelion

It is the familiar that usually eludes us in life. What is before our nose is what we see last.

-William C. Barrett, American philosopher/ educator (1913–1992)

This morning, the dandelions are at their peak in my backyard. The recent, unseasonably warm weather has brought out these annual visitors in all of their glory. The beauty of their brilliant yellow blossoms has magically transformed the green expanse of lawn into a royal blanket of gold.

Did you know that dandelions hail from the Aster or Sunflower family? And that, like the sunflower, dandelion flowers rotate toward the sky throughout the course of the day, following the sun’s rays?

The word “dandelion” comes from the French words “dent de lion,” meaning lion’s tooth, referring to the serrated edges of their individual leaves. Each dandelion bloom is actually comprised of a compact mass of tiny, individual, yellow florets.

The dandelion – a delightful little spot of cheer in our world. And yet, because of its omnipresence, most people take it for granted. They say it’s not worth much. In fact, it is regarded as a common weed and something that does not belong in the “better” yards. Most homeowners strive continuously to eradicate this little flower which blooms prolifically year after year all through our lawns, unless we have taken measures to prevent it. Dandelions also come up in all sorts of additional locations – cracks in parking lots or driveways, along the edges of steps and fences, and interspersed between desired growing things in our gardens.

American philosopher William Barrett pointed out, in his words printed above, that many things in life are overlooked, simply because they are always there in our day-to-day landscape. So familiar to us do these things become, we ultimately fail to “see” them at all. It’s a good practice periodically to open our eyes to what is right before us — things that are actually well worth noting and valuing.

Case in point is the familiar, ubiquitous dandelion – often unseen and definitely unappreciated. I believe we have been too hasty in our negative assessment of the dandelion, for this brave and mighty little plant never stops volunteering its charming presence, with no encouragement from us.

The dandy also possesses many other qualities that are actually quite dandy. The first dandelions of spring are recognized as succulent, tasty, early sprouts to be eaten raw or used in cooked dishes. Before modern nutritional science warned us of the harm of high fat diets, “dandelion greens,” wilted when sprinkled with hot bacon grease and served alongside rich mashed potatoes, was a popular delicacy. My late father often spoken of having enjoyed this dish as well as of helping his parents prepare dandelion wine from its flowers. Today, nutritionists tell us that dandelion soups and salads (sans the bacon grease!) provide us with a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, as well as vitamins B, C, and E.

Further, my father told me that the leaves and roots of the dandelion plant are sometimes considered as folk remedies used for medicinal purposes. It has even been reported that grounds from the root of the dandelion can be roasted for a type of coffee substitute. (This undoubtedly would have a ways to go to match my favorite latte, but still, not bad for a little weed from the backyard!)

Dandelions display exemplary durability, vitality, and resourcefulness. Near the end of their lives, their yellow blossoms transform into spheres of white parachutes/seeds, converting entire fields into misty white blankets. These little white puffs are then gently blown away by a slight breeze or breath, floating off to distant places, there to begin another generation of dandies.

So, here’s to the plucky dandelion, a hardy little plant which, in spite of unpopularity, ridicule, and even threats to its very existence, is ever true to its mission of thriving in our world while providing pretty little posies for us to enjoy.

Through it all, the faithful little dandelion blooms on . . . it has much to teach us.

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