As this year comes to a close, I have a confession to make—promise you won’t tell? I never really grew up. I just pretend that I have. Most of the time, I manage to act like an adult, but there is a certain time of year that sends me straight back to my childhood. It’s milkweed time—my Harvest Fairy time.
Milkweeds grow on the ditch banks all over Colorado’s Front Range. When I was little, my love of this special weed was born. You see, milkweeds are a BLAST to play with. You can turn the plant’s empty pods into boats and sail them down ditches, but best of all is the fact that the pods explode into balls of fluff and send their seeds floating through the air. The puffy parachutes feel as soft as kitten fur, and I love watching them fly up toward the clouds. To me, milkweed time is pure magic.
I’m not sure when I came up with the idea of being the “Harvest Fairy,” but it’s a bit of nonsensical fun that I’ve enjoyed for the past thirty-some years. Every fall, I pick a sparkling autumn day to go for a walk. As I stroll, I collect the puffed-out milkweed pods and scatter their fluff on the wind. It’s so much fun to fill the air with a slurry of white seeds and watch them floating high and far. Now days, I just stroll and scatter, but when I was younger, my ritual was much more elaborate. On Harvest Fairy Day, I’d make myself a crown of dried leaves and grasses and go along the ditch banks earnestly scattering the milkweed seed. Of course, the practice of making crowns took a hard hit one year when I ended up with beetles in my hair—you see, being the Harvest Fairy has a few risks…
(Now, let me pause for a moment and insert a disclaimer. I’m a farmer’s daughter, and I KNOW the confession that I’ve scattered weed seed is a horrible confession to make. With the utmost embarrassment, I’ll admit that I’ve probably single-handedly seeded my entire county with milkweed over the years. I know I should probably give up my milkweed fun—any sensible person would—but the problem is that deep down, I’m not really sensible and I don’t think I ever could be. You’d think I’d grow out of my silly ways, but I haven’t yet. Whenever I vow to act more sensibly, I spot a puffy milkweed plant just waiting for the Harvest Fairy’s touch. I’ve finally decided that I’m a lost cause. The Harvest Fairy is too deeply ingrained in me to be yanked out. I’m afraid it’s here to stay.)
Ever since I became ill, I try to make sure not to miss milkweed time. It’s the one day a year when my problems shrink away and I revel in pure nonsense. This year, I had a blast on my fairy walk. There was just the right amount of breeze to really send the seeds sailing. As I watched them floating away, a thought entered my head. If I had to, could I ever get the seeds back into the pod? I watched them floating above treetops and falling down into ditches. There was no way that I could regather the seeds, and I knew it. Even as I pondered this reality, the realization came that words are like seeds floating on the breeze. Once they’re released, they can’t be reclaimed.
As I continued to think, I picked another pod and sent more seeds sailing. As I watched the fluff zooming away, I realized that some words are beautiful and helpful. Some are mean and cruel. Each has the potential to make something grow. Happiness. Encouragement. Joy. Self-confidence. Anger. Worthlessness. Depression. Despair.
I scattered more milkweed fluff into the air, and as I did, I realized that I’m the Harvest Fairy every day of my life. Everything I speak or do influences those around me. I either brighten their day or make it more difficult. It’s my choice how I am going to affect other people.
This time, as I finished my Harvest Fairy day, I felt as if it meant more than just a spot of harmless fun. This time, there seemed to be an object lesson—and even a warning—embedded in my milkweed revelry. What kind of seed am I spreading? What is going to grow? Ever since this year’s milkweed time, I’ve been praying that each seed I send floating will be full of kindness and that it will cause joy to spring up wherever it lands. As I enter a new year, that’s my resolution. That’s what I want the most.
Happy New Year, my friends! May 2016 bring each of us a deeper revelation of Christ and His love!
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24