April 6th is the birthday of Charles Burchfeld, (1893-1967) watercolorist and personal favorite of mine. Just as in the hymn my title comes from, he makes nature sing. One thing I miss living in the city is the music of the crickets in late summer.
When I look at this painting, “Insect Chorus,” it almost tickles my ears.
Here’s another favorite. I find everything about dandelions charming– their sunny yellow mop heads, their delicious greens, their name–Teeth of the Lion. I love them despite–or maybe because of–their reputation as a weed.
Many flowers lose their appeal when they go to seed but that’s when the dandelion comes into his glory.
I’ve tried but I can’t capture those delicate little seed parasols in pen and ink. Mr. Burchfeld certainly did.
There’s an art to the task; you don’t just pull up the flower, yo have to take this wicked looking tool, especially designed to kill the dandelion, dig down beside the strong, deep root and pull it up whole.
Years after that house was sold I went to church with Mom and Dad. The preacher told this story;
There was a man who hated dandelions so much that he funded a study at Texas A&M to eradicate them. After years of exhaustive research the scientists had to report that dandelions are indestructible and will always be with us.
“We suggest you learn to love them.”
Mom and I fell out of the pew laughing.
There’s another hymn I love—and I put its latin translation, “Credit curas venti” in some of my etchings; It’s “Give to the Wind thy Fears.”
Whenever I sing it I picture taking a perfect globe of a dandelion and blowing away the seeds. That’s one of the forbidden pleasures of my youth.
But wait—that metaphor doesn’t work. Those tiny little seeds will land and take root and grow and spread—not what we want our fears to do. Instead, blow the dandelion and see the seeds as good
will; hopes, dreams, kind words—give them to the winds and watch them grow.