Leah Damgaard-Hansen

A Flower Story

Last summer, bicycling around a Danish island, I came across a field of wildflowers.

They were all along a small country byroad, magic carpet of color, nodding and swaying to one another and the sun.

A blue tractor in the distance trudged back and forth across a dirt field, raising a little cloud in its wake. 

I got off my bike and walked up and down looking at all the flowers. The sun, late in the sky, warmed my summer skin and lit up the petals like a thousand tiny lampshades. 

Birds swooped low. Long grass poked out between my toes. Small bugs went about their business. Gulls chased the tractor.

There were red and orange poppies, yellow-warm sunflowers, white daises with golden hearts, delicate cosmos and anemone, cornflowers, zinnias, chamomile, forget-me-nots.

I couldn’t get enough. 

The blue tractor turned in my direction and the engine grew louder. 

I thought this might be my cue to leave. Perhaps in my excitement I had unwittingly trespassed someone’s private garden of delight.

Well, I told myself, I can be content with my glimpse, and retreat.

The farmer pulled a lever. The tractor stood still, engine chugging.

He leaned out of the cab and raised his voice to be heard over the machine. 

He told me he had planted the flowers. 

’I don’t know what they all are,’ he said, ‘I just really like the way they look.’ 

The sun lit up his hair and the dirty tractor windows, making of him a divine figure in stained glass.

He added, ‘Take a few home with you.’

The flowers seemed to possess some super-natural life magic. 

They made themselves at home in a glass of water as easily as they had in the field, every morning as lively as when I’d been invited to pluck them.  

The day I had to leave the island and return to the city, I left them on an old wooden table in the kitchen.

In my dreams they are still there, telling of kindly wizards who disguise themselves as country folk, work manure across fields in blue tractors and give talismans to fortunate wanderers.

Someday, I hope, on bare feet and a bicycle, I may find my way back there.

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