I love daisies.
Yes, the plain, common, white daisies that grow amongst the grass, are a link to the carefree days I knew as a child, when, with my brothers, sisters and girlfriends, we played on the vacant block beside our home. There, we sought to make the best and
biggest daisy chain, from the myriads of wild daisies that grew in the grass.
When I was writing the book about happiness, the decision of what design to feature on the cover arose. When I thought of happiness, somehow, those far-off days of my childhood came flooding back, bringing with them memories of the daisy chains we made on summer nights. Perfect fit for an inspiring book!
Trying to encourage the athlete in us, my father, who’d excelled at athletics in his youth, regularly mowed the vacant, ¼ acre block next door to us and installed jumps, hurdles, starting blocks and other homemade sporting equipment. We’d play rounders, French cricket, skipping, or compete in the jumps. A voluntary levy of a penny per child was paid into the treacle tin, to cover the cost of equipment and prizes.
While it was never formally organized as a youth activities club, whole families came along, after tea, to join in the fun run for the grand prize of sixpence (it was worth a lot in those days). A great bunch of older kids ran a longer, more physically challenging race of approximately 1½ miles, around a convoluted block to work off their energy.
The littlies, up to five years old, just ran to the corner and back, a couple of hundred yards. The really tiny tots ran a much shorter distance. Everyone from tiny tots to gangling teenagers ran back then, when life was less complicated. Television hadn’t made its impact and sexual issues hadn’t crossed our minds, back then.
By the time we’d run right around the block, we’d arrive back, winded, and slump exhausted, but happy, on the soft grass, to rest our tired bodies. There, in the balmy summer twilight, we would recover our breath, listening to the skylarks’ songs, high up in the sky above us.
Once we’d recuperated, the competition would start between teams of three, to see who could make the longest daisy chain. Many kids competed and the competition was fierce. It was a matter of honour, for our family, to uphold the Links trophy. So we’d set to work as a team.
One person, usually male, gathered a pile of daisies in a shoebox, while another person (generally female), would nick the stems with a thumbnail, to make the loop through which to thread the flowers. The final person (always a girl), would nimbly link the daisies through the loop, to form a chain.
The competition was timed and we went to it with a great determination to win. When time’s up was called, the daisy chains were gently lifted and carried to the front, to be measured and judged. The more experienced we became at linking the chains, the more elaborate the designs became.
We didn’t realize it then but we were learning priceless skills – of teamwork, dexterity and leadership that would carry us forward throughout our lives.
The best daisy chain, earned the team a chocolate fish each, and our names were inscribed on the wooden trophy. Other teams scored a chocolate fish to share. I can still remember the taste of those fish, sixty years later.
Oh, the happy memories that are stirred by the sight of a white daisy…. They were great days of happiness and innocence.
Helen McKay© 2007
Author of: Links to your Happiness