Mom’s Dandelion Recipe & the Passover Seder

“It’s a spring cleaning ritual – but for your body,” touts reporter Jennifer Sheehan, extolling the merits of eating dandelion. “It cleans your blood and you get a lot of good vitamins from it,” another endorsement I read in Sheehan’s article from Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call.

My mother would agree. Each spring about this time, she took her wooden-handled trowel and dug out dandelion plants fertilized by cow and horse manure in the meadow next door. “Dandelion has a lot of iron,” she said of the long, spiny leaves. “And it’s so good with hard-boiled eggs and bacon.”

Last week my sister Janice shared Mother’s recipe. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t know it was written down anywhere.

Add a little water till soft.

Add white sugar – a little vinegar

Fry bacon and hard boil two eggs

The recipe wouldn’t pass muster for cookbook publication, lacking as it does measurements and a logical order. But reading between the lines, I constructed her dish in a slightly different way.

First of all, I bought dandelion at a local farmer’s market. The label reads organic. The dandelion stalks pictured here look too perfect The dandelion strands of my childhood were more wiry, a deeper green. “Organic” was not a selling point back then.


I began by frying bacon and hard boiling eggs.


Instead of white sugar, I used brown.

And I saved the broth from cooking the dandelion. “It’s good for what ails you,” I imagine Mother would say.


Finally, good enough to eat!



Continuing the discussion of dandelion in The Morning Call, Sheehan quotes Patrick Donmoyer, an expert on Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, who believes eating dandelion greens is symbolic. “Donmoyer, who lectures at the Pennsylvania German Heritage Center in Kutztown, reports that some people believed that the dandelion were special, holy even, gathered as they were during the week leading up to Easter.”

Christians observed Easter nearly a month ago, but beginning Friday evening, Jewish families observe Passover, enjoying the ritual of the Seder meal. Surely no bacon will be served, but the menu will feature eggs, symbolizing renewal, and bitter herbs, signifying the agony of Hebrew enslavement in Egypt.

Traditional Seder Menu, Source:
Traditional Seder Menu, Source:

You can see a fully furnished Seder table here in a previous post. I wonder whether dandelion, like horseradish, would qualify as a bitter herb.


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What rituals do you observe in the spring – eating certain foods? cleaning house? planting a garden?

Do you have a dandelion (or endive) recipe to share, or an experience of eating the dish? Have you observed the Passover Seder?


Coming next: All Creatures Great and Small: The Power of Pets


Climbing the Swiss Alps: 7 Steps Toward a Narrative Arc

Events in our lives happen in a sequence in

time, but in their significance to

ourselves they find their own order . . . the

continuous thread of revelation.

—Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

Writers find real life images to compare what happens as they mold life events into stories:

  • To fabric (thread and weaving)
  • To clay (molding a lump into a recognizable form)
  • To construction (building a house from the foundation up)

Finding the right shape for telling our story is a critical step in the memoir writing process. Writers call it the narrative arc.

Paging through a photo album of my trip to Switzerland, I have found another metaphor for structuring my memoir: Contours of the Swiss Alps

All photos: Marian Beaman
All photos: Cliff and Marian Beaman

Climbing the Alps fits with the theme and title of Journey of Memoir by Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner. “One of the most challenging aspects of writing a memoir, which of course is based on true and real events in your life, is to create a plot out of what happened.” (104)

I know my life story. I don’t have to make up events and characters. Through trial and error, I have decided that my theme is the quest for my true self as a sheltered Mennonite girl growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Still, I have to mold my tale into a story of transformation, one that will grip readers’ imagination and keep them turning the pages.

* * *

Aristotle affirms that every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end: Act One, Act Two, Act Three.

Stories that intrigue have conflict too. For example, when you saw a play like Our Town or Macbeth, you were transported into another world through exposition, rising action (the story builds), a crisis, a climax, and finally a resolution.

Crisis (all seems to be lost) Climax (major conflict narrator must resolve) Conclusion (epiphany - so that's it!)
Crisis at midpoint (all seems to be lost) Climax (major conflict narrator must resolve) Conclusion (epiphany – Ah,  so that’s it!)


My 7 Steps . . .

  1. I created a timeline of vivid memories in my life. This is how I hoped to arrive at my turning points, moments of significant change. As I drew, I thought in terms of chronology. What is my first memory? What stands out in elementary school? What family events pop up? Who looms large as a mentor? Answers to these questions could become turning points, I believed.

TimelineMemoir copy

  1. Then I thought about scenes. On colored stickies I randomly wrote phrases that came to mind. For example: The phrase “Daddy yodeling” could turn into a scene about my sisters and me taking turns singing with Daddy at the piano, relating to the impact of music upon my formative years.



3. Next I gathered random scenes into a sensible order.  Writers choose scenes based on how well they relate to their theme, the message of their memoir. For example, a theme can be traveling and what you learned on the journey, recovering from a challenging situation like an illness or abuse, or the struggles of becoming a chef. My own theme can be stated as a question: How can a girl from a sheltered and restrictive Mennonite culture find her place in an emerging new life?

A memoir is not an autobiography. I couldn’t include every detail of my entire life. I selected only those scenes that related to my theme. I write about this in a previous post.

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  1. Sometimes I felt stuck. Fatigue sets in on a long climb. Air is more rare as one moves into the higher altitudes (Alp-titude in Swiss terms). Sometimes I felt faint-hearted.

PuzzledWgraphMarianMarch1 copy

  1. I constructed a narrative arc composed of scenes relating to my theme. A narrative arc can take several forms: curvy like a hill or jagged like the Swiss Alps.

The core of mine turned into an upside-down V-shape, rather like a peak in the Swiss Alps


W-StructureBoard copy

The sticky notes make it possible for me to move ideas around easily. In fact, I’ve moved some notes into a different order since the photo was taken.

6. I’ve printed out copies of drafts. As I’ve progressed, I’ve stored manuscripts in labeled folders on my computer desktop. But I’ve also printed out copies of my drafts from my laptop because I find it helpful to touch the pages and make marginal notes in colored ink. Pages in the binders feel book-like, real.

BinderManuscripts3 copy

7. I try to overlook messiness in my work space. Generally, I’m a neatnik, but worries about order, except in my writing, distract from my creative process.

MessyDesk copy

So, that’s where I am now!

I began with an impulse to tell my story which progressed from

Journals –>  Blog posts –>  Memoir Drafts

At the moment, I’m in the muddy middle, aiming to complete the journey across the Alpine-scape of memoir.

More to come . . .


How about you?

Have you made a similar journey with memoir? How would you chart your narrative arc? 


Coming next: Moments of Discovery, a Bubble, a Dome, a Mirror

Easter Passion: Then and Now

At Easter-tide I’m dipping once again into my Grandma Fannie Martin Longenecker’s stash of vintage post cards. Here is one dated April 1908 from “your RBC,” it says, with the postmark wrapped around the face of the card.




Another, from 1910, displays the marvelous passion flower adorning the cross.




The message from Grandma’s cousin Elizabeth begins with “Dear Coz” and in black flowing fountain-pen ink cursive begs her for a visit: “Try and come down to E-Town on Sat. Eve and come to Demmys. I will be there now don’t forget it.”


The passion flower which blooms in the spring has come to symbolize the suffering and death of Christ, hence the nickname “passion.” Mary Delany, herself a late-blooming artist, constructed a lovely flower with 230 petals with her scissors art.


The bloom (Passiflora) grown in my garden illustrates the religious symbolism explained below.


One writer, a Franciscan sister, has expressed the meaning of the flower parts in this way.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion:

* The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
* The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
* The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
* The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
* The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
* The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
* The blue [purple] and white colours of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.


This is the season of spring, Easter, and Passover. Happy Holy-day to you!


Coming next: Climbing the Swiss Alps: 7 Steps Toward a Narrative Arc


Comparison Shopper Finds His Valentine

Gump-a-bump-a-rump-a! (Repeat – repeat)

No driver wants to hear this coming from under her car hood, even if it is my aging Infiniti. When I reported these scary noises to my husband Cliff, he immediately went into Investigator Mode. His problem-solving scenario proceeded like this: visiting a neighbor who restores antique cars, checking with an auto shop we’ve used before, and then contacting the dealership, the most expensive option. He wrote down notes for each, notes with names, dates, schematics, and most importantly, dollar signs.


He handles plumbing problems at home or HVAC hang-ups the same thorough way. Whether buying a new lawnmower, computer equipment or making travel plans, my husband Cliff is a comparison shopper supreme.

Once upon a time, Cliff used this same methodical system to find suitable dates. During college he had a little black book in which he entered names of girls to date. After they passed the sensational-physical-attributes test, their names and interests were entered into this book. Some girls’ names were crossed off the list because they were too giggly, walked like a duck, or were unable to sing on key.

Cliff went into serious search mode to find a mate after an unofficial engagement fell apart. Then his college roommate suggested he meet his next-door neighbor, a teacher and a Mennonite, during Christmas vacation. We met on a blind date In December 1965. I say blind because the normal-looking Mennonites he had known from the West were very unlike the girl standing in front of him, plain with hair coiled up under a prayer cap – me.

Maybe because of the mystique of our differences or because we had similar interests, ours was a whirlwind romance sustained by letters for months after Cliff returned to post-graduate work and me to teaching. Then his letters dwindled, probably because of his hesitation about dating a girl like me from such a strange background.

He went into comparison shopping mode again as he began his first year teaching, dating a nurse from a fine family. Later, he said after he had come to his senses, “I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I thought I would miss something if I said goodbye to you forever.”

According to Cliff, two things I did sealed the deal for him.

  • I made him a monogrammed bath robe for Valentine’s which kept him from freezing on off-campus housing his last few months in college
  • I called various hospitals to try to figure out in which hospital he was a patient when he had pneumonia and was too sick to contact me.

Fortunately our friendship was rekindled when we both attended the August 1966 wedding of the couple who introduced us. Now it was Christmas 1966, and Cliff drove from Jacksonville Florida to pick me up in Charlotte, North Carolina where I was teaching. From there we headed to my hometown, in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania in his white Plymouth Savoy.

Replica of Cliff's 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster
Replica of Cliff’s 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster

There one snowy evening before Christmas Cliff said, “Let’s take a drive.” So we bundled up and headed out, crunching footprints in the new fallen snow. Fat flakes were falling from the sky even thicker as we slid into the car, the plastic seats crackling from the cold. Memories of the evening have become a movie in my mind.

“Where are we going?” I quizzed.

“Oh, I don’t know. We’ll just take a drive in this beautiful snow,” Cliff replied rather lamely.

As he tried hard to urge the heater to warm us up, we reminisced about our first dates the Christmas before. “Do you remember how deep the snow was when we went to see the Sound of Music?”

“Of course I do!” The car’s windshield wipers were swishing away mini-cotton balls of snow now.

In the back of his mind, Cliff wondered, “What will she say if I ask her to marry me?”

As we approached the archway between Rheems and Mount Joy, I exclaimed, “The road hasn’t been plowed any farther. We’re at a standstill!” We had come to a crossroads.

Then he said, “If you thought it was God’s will, would you marry me?”

Quickly I responded, “Of course I would.” But in an instant I recognized this as a marriage proposal encased in a tricky question, a snowy fleece.

“Well, then, will you marry me?”

With a “Yes,” the camera dissolved into hugs and kisses.

And yes, the little black book has been destroyed long ago.

Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection
Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection


Is there a comparison shopper in your family? Are you such a shopper?

You are invited to share your marriage proposal story here too.




Coming next: My Day of Change @ a Middle School

A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby

On Christmas Day 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida, the temperature stood at 85, at least twenty degrees above the normal daytime thermometer reading for this time of year.

Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees
Temperature on our porch Christmas Day 2015, Jacksonville, FL: 85 degrees

Over most of the USA, Christmas day was warmer than usual, the forecasters predicting a near record-breaking temperature of 62 degrees for Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, once my hometown.


Years ago when our young family left Florida’s palm trees and beachy sand during the Christmas holiday, we hoped for Pennsylvania snow, praying for enough inches for sledding and making a snowman.

One Christmas (1973) my husband Cliff and brother-in-law Bill sculpted an Easter Bunny from snow, a photo that made it into the now defunct Elizabethtown Chronicle.


Snow slows everything down.

Snow descends from the skies in soothing swirls, no two flakes alike. The morning after a snowfall is quiet – traffic slows, the earth sits snug in silence, wrapped in beauty.

German Carols about snow are soothing too. Grandma Longenecker sang the first verse of Stille Nacht in German to us as tots, a carol of three stanzas we learned well enough to sing for Christmas programs at Rheems Elementary School. Now in my memory a warm spot remains where I hear Grandma’s voice singing the words to “Stile, Stile, Stile,” a lullaby that evokes the image of gently falling snow in the still of the night.

Whether the weather is dull or delightful, songs from the olden days can help carry us through.

Credit:    12.26.15

How was your weather during this holiday week? Weather stories during a childhood Christmas or Hanukkah celebration may have popped into your mind too. There’s always more to the story when you join in.

Coming next: My Word, It’s 2016!

Finding Silver

When we cleared out Mother’s house last year, we set aside some of her treasures to be passed down to the next generation. This month we are labeling these items with specific names to avoid mix-ups.

One of Mom’s prized and most used wedding presents was her set of silverware. You can see the complete set here with a card that reads simply in blue cursive: “From Ray,” the groom, and then her new husband.


Mother and Daddy reached their 25th anniversary commemorated with many gifts of silver, including this candy dish bequeathed to Cliff and me on our 25th.


Then Mother and Daddy celebrated their 40th with a nice party which my sister Jean planned. They even reached their 45th, but not their golden 50th. It was not meant to be. Daddy passed away a few months before their 46th anniversary.

I remember Dad saying to Mom on their 40th anniversary, “I couldn’t have found a better wife anywhere!”

Perhaps these words could have expressed Mother’s sentiments on their 50th. The poet weaves some golden strands into her lines:


I love words. Share yours here.

Coming next: Through a Glass Darkly: Anniversary # 48

Dear reader: After the August 5 publication, I will be posting once a week on Wednesdays in August, so I can devote more time to memoir writing. I appreciate so very much your companionship on this journey.

Blog Posts on Wednesdays_final

I Spy an Elk!

Gladys asks me, “Would you like to drive up to Cataloochee National Park to see the elk sometime this week? We have to go at dusk because that’s when they come out to feed.”

I’m quick to respond: “Sounds good to me.” I’ve never seen elk up close. Besides I thought they lived in Colorado or Wyoming. “I’m game!”

After many decades, I have reconnected in North Carolina with Gladys Graybill Schofield, whom I have known in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania since our early teens. Gladys lives in the Smoky Mountains and has agreed to be our personal guide for the evening. Who can resist!

Gladys and Marian having early supper at Blue Rooster in Waynesville, NC before elk-spotting
Gladys and Marian having early supper at Blue Rooster in Waynesville, NC before elk-spotting

She and I have gone to Laurelville Mennonite Camp together during Girls’ Week. We were even baptized together at Bossler Mennonite Church. She still has that sweet smile I remember. This will be another adventure together over dozens of switch-backs and rough terrain to see the elk.

The peaceful Cataloochee Valley, surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, has preserved historic homes, barns, and churches. We were surprised to find much more than elk here in this Park.


Built in 1903, the Caldwell house has no front door, grainy hardwood floors, and several hearths for an earlier family to heat the bedrooms and cook in the kitchen. It seems haunted, like an artifact in a museum – no sign of life within. We don’t linger.

Close by, I snoop around what appears to be a two-story tobacco barn:


No elk close-up yet, so the forest ranger gives us a tutorial illustrated with authentic stage props displayed here by an old buck.


Antlers fall off male elk in March and regenerate before winter.

Because of over-hunting and loss of habitat, elk disappeared from the southern Appalachians in the 1700s. Our national park service chose to re-introduce elk in 2001 by importing 25 elk from the Kentucky-Tennessee border and 27 more from Alberta, Canada.The park currently preserves 52 elk. One might call it “the return of the native.”

Ah, we see elk in the distance . . .


And then we spot a female grazing along a bubbling stream . . .

Before we leave at dusk, a male with velvety antlers grazes along the roadside. Elk at 500-700 pounds are formidable creatures if they feel threatened, so we keep our distance.

This buck elk will grow a new set of antlers every year This one is in the velvety stage and will be fully
This bull elk will grow a new set of antlers every year. His rack is in the velvety stage in June and will be fully “mature” by the fall, attracting females in the herd.

We gape, and click our iPhones. Quick!

Leaving the park at twilight, Gladys and I see up in front of her vehicle a black wooly creature bounding across the gravel road and up a ravine.

It’s a BEAR!

Creation Clips

We are spending the week in the cool Smoky Mountains, savoring the beauties of nature in Waynesville, North Carolina. Nothing breaks the silence except birdsong. Rhododendron buds unfold into blossom, a walking stick is a great companion, just like Laurelville Camp in the Fifties.

Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp
Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp

You’re invited on a nature walk today . . .

Rhododendron, blooms tight in the bud
Rhododendron blooms slowly releasing their full beauty. Pink buds become white flowers.
In full bloom, 3 days later
In full bloom, 3 days later
Walking through the woods, making all the difference
Walking through the woods, making all the difference
Turtle tries to camouflage
Turtle trying to camouflage. It’s not working!
Flaming Azalea
Flaming Azalea
Hummingbird says, "Fly letter fly - come back with quick reply"
Hummingbird says, “Fly letter fly – come back with quick reply,” an antiquated postscript in this era of email, texting, Facebook messaging.


Echinacea, used by native Americans for centuries, has medicinal powers, say lovers of natural remedies. Its leaves, flowers, and roots can be used to boost the immune system. Some devotees take echinacea at the first sign of a cold. Others use it fight viral infections, chronic fatigue, or skin wounds.

Take time to smell the roses . . .
Take time to smell the roses . . .


Bring on the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. Toast some S’mores!


Something’s missing here: Add your own quote, verse of scripture or story that came to mind as you read this post. Gather around the camp-fire!


Coming next: I Spy an Elk!

Our Easter in Ukraine

Khristos voskres!

Christ is risen indeed!

These words spoken in Russian are the very first expression of Easter joy we hear on Sunday, April 24, 2011 as folks gather at Birth of Christ Church in Kiev, Ukraine, preparing for the worship hour.

Here is the choir after rehearsal preparing to ascend the steps to the sanctuary for the Easter service.

Easter_UK_Birth of Christ Choir

At the invitation of ABCLife, Kathy Gould’s ministry to children and families, husband Cliff and I spent two weeks in Kiev (April 8 – 28, 2011) and surrounding towns performing art and music shows in public schools and churches. His final program entitled “He is Risen” is presented here at Birth of Christ Church on Easter weekend.

After the exchange of greetings, we worship by singing songs of the resurrection and then thrill to the experience of seeing the “He is risen!” presentation accompanied by exultant music and special lighting effects.

Easter_Birth of Christ+new mural_6x4_300

Before the service, early this Sunday morning, we see a couple, basket of Easter bread and eggs in hand, wending their way toward a Ukrainian Orthodox church farther down the road. Ukrainians walk every where possible as cars are very expensive here, and today the weather is cool and gorgeous. This couple graciously allow me to photograph their beautiful paschal offering.


Their special bread is frosted and coated with sprinkles. Here is a recipe for Ukrainian Easter Bread (Paska) from Extending the Table, a World Community Cookbook published by MennoMedia in a revised edition. In my older edition from 1991, the recipe is found on page 65.

RecipeExtending the Table_recipe_p65

*  *  *

After completing 19 shows in a 12-day period, we are ready for a respite, which we enjoy in Crimea: the ornate Livadia Palace, site of the signing of the peace treaty between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin; the Church of Foros with its onion domes, where celebrities marry. Then in a park in the city of Yalta, a statue of Pushkin, the celebrated Russian poet and one of Chekhov’s “Lady with Her Dog” virtually come to life along the promenade bordering the Black Sea.

Sadly, the door is barred to Crimea now, once the accessible southern-most region of Ukraine. Since our visit, President Vladimir Putin has wrested this lovely coastal land from Ukrainian hands.

Pray for the people of Ukraine!

Cliff’s YouTube connection

Coming next: Enchanted April, Renewal and Possibilities

A Robbery, Sad Friday, and a Clump of Daffodils

“I’ve been robbed!’ These are the only words artist/performer Cliff can utter as he walks toward his Dodge van, noticing that the air-vent window on the driver’s side has been pushed in at an odd angle. It’s about 4:30 a.m. Good Friday, April 1, 1994.

Rushing around the vehicle to open the side doors, he begins to take inventory of what’s missing: sound equipment including a stereo mixer, a professional-grade tape player, a recorder and at least 150 treasured CDs missing from cases. An envelope with cash – gone. All gone! He walks frantically around the parking lot of the Quality Inn he is leaving and spots a black suitcase, which the thieves have thrown into a ravine. Empty!

It was the end of a very productive month presenting 35 multi-media school assembly programs in Florida and Georgia. Cliff had driven to Nashville, Tennessee because his next shows would be in the Memphis area. He had been looking forward to boarding a 6:00 a.m. Delta flight to come home on Good Friday and spend Easter weekend with his family. This weekend, however, turned out to be a mixed blessing – The splendor of the resurrection service at church conflicted with the discordant thoughts about his recent loss: Lost equipment, lost musical discs, remembering malfunctioning hotel parking lights that had probably contributed to the thieves finding his van easy prey. And after all, it was Nashville, music city.

After returning to the Nashville airport after Easter to continue his itinerary, he takes stock. Though the robbery has felt like a violation, a form of rape actually, he could count his blessings: 1. His CD player vital to the music that accompanies his drawing was in a separate case, undisturbed and  2. He had copies of program music at his home base, Jacksonville.

Still reeling from the impact of the loss of inanimate “friends” that provided the musical score to his chalk drawing on a large easel, he must soldier on toward St. Louis, Missouri for next week’s shows. Behind the wheel again, he popped in a cassette tape, a musical companion on the long hauls between cities: soaring classical music and uplifting hymns, a distraction from the recent robbery. His itinerary takes him through Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where his journal notations begin:

The undulating ribbon of asphalt in Interstate 55, the hum of the van engine, rumbling of tires, and rushing air together with the music combined their forces to calm my mind . . . .  Now a spot of yellow caught my attention. Was it litter – or something else? The blurry image that I imagine are daffodils soon vanished from my side view mirror.


I keep driving but feel an urgency to turn around. The nest of daffodils keep calling me. “Come back. Don’t go another mile. You may miss a special moment in your life, a moment that can put a special gladness in your heart.

 Finally, he turns around at the next exit, heading south, as he wonders, “How far had I traveled since I had seen the flowers? I honestly had no idea, but I retraced my path even farther than I thought necessary to spot those daffodils again.” He gives up and heads north again. But feeling a tug even more insistent, he turns the van around one more time.

Passing over the exit I continued searching, almost holding my breath. My jaw set, my eyes straining for anything yellow.


I nervously looked at my watch. I could not believe that two hours had passed since first sighting those images of hope. Miles and time seem to merge together. My odometer indicated I had gone 120 miles since first turning back. What was I to do? It was getting late; I had to get to St. Louis soon.


And then ahead I saw it—a flash of golden yellow. My heart leaped with joy—It was there after all, several clumps of daffodils, but I saw two huddled together, spring-like beauties, raising their slender pastel green fingers, lifting golden heads to the heavens!


The next challenge: Finding a container and extracting the two daffodils from the hard soil without a trowel or shovel.

With traffic whizzing by and like a mad man on a single mission, I quickly swung open the back and side doors of the van, and found a plastic one-gallon container of spring water. Out gurgled the water. Then, I rummaged through my tool bag until I found a razor blade to cut out the topside portion of the jug.

How to dig up the daffodils though?

Once again, I dashed back to the van and from deep within my jungle of sound and art equipment, boxes and bags, I pulled out an aluminum yardstick. With both hands on my innovative shovel, I vigorously dug down deep into the damp soil and rock encasing the two flowers. After leveraging the living plants into a plastic bag, I carefully placed them into the jug, watering the daffodils and even hiding them in bushes outside overnight for safe-keeping at hotel rest stops before the next trip home.

On this Saturday, April 9, 1994 my husband spent 2 ¼ hours driving an extra 125 miles to capture in real time this evidence of hope and then later spent more hours penning this story in a travelogue entitled “I Stopped Beside the Road Today.”

The robbers did their dirty deed in an unlighted parking lot and left no evidence of their identity behind. Yet, Cliff searched for beauty among the rubble and found it, proof of the hope it represents.


I have saved the dried-up daffodils, one headless, in a blue vase for 21 years.

And I can’t find it in me – at least not yet – to destroy these bedraggled tendrils – evidence of a Bad Friday turned Good!

Have you ever been robbed? Have you lost something so valuable you searched and searched? Here’s where to tell your story!

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Links to Cliff Beaman, artist –

YouTube video

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Bonus: Tradition has it that the daffodil, the Lent Lily, will open on Ash Wednesday and die on Easter Day. In a poem entitled The Lent Lily, A. E. Housman writes of the daffodil as a yellow trumpet heralding the glories of spring.

Coming next: Our Easter in Ukraine