Ode to the Lion’s Tooth

Its spring and the roadsides and lawns will soon be turning a beautiful yellow. Time for a rededication.

It’s that time of year again when the lawn warrior girds himself for battle. Weapons belt bristling with digger, snippers, three varieties of weed killer, and other assorted instruments of war, the grim combatant enters the field to face and eradicate the foe. And don’t get me wrong, this is not a male only pursuit; many a mighty Amazon similarly equipped enters the fray with just as much zeal.

The foe, the Lion’s Tooth- perhaps you are more familiar with the French translation, dente de lion or the Anglicized, dandelion, is being unjustly demonized. True, the Lion’s Tooth is a tough, tenacious and wily adversary. But why call it an adversary at all? Look at its many positive attributes. It is one of the first greens of spring. A tasty and healthful spring salad, important before we were used to getting our Vitamin C in capsule form. And wine, an inexpensive, legal, homemade high.

Environmentally, a real friend. Its long tap root penetrates deep into your over-compacted lawns aerating, recovering, and recycling all those nutrients you overzealous grassaholics have been pouring on your lawns and then leeching into our ground water with sprinkler mania.

Think of the joy those first yellow buttons must provide the hungry bee, desperate to replenish its depleted winter larder. Remember that when you spread the honey on your toast.

As potential for a livestock forage crop, cultivars of the dandelion hold real promise. And the roots may one day rival carrots, turnips, or potatoes in our supermarket produce section.

Oh you weed warriors if cold reason will not sway you, have you no heart, have you no soul? Do you remember not those childhood hours spent making daisy chains out of linked dandelion stems?

Or rubbing golden flower heads on a wriggling companion’s face, the resulting yellow tinge indicating that companion “liked butter”. All the while giving not a wit to mother’s admonition about grass stains on your Sunday clothes.

Or of soft, early summer days, sitting in a haze of fluff, the sun slowly dipping to the horizon. You hold up the perfectly formed seed globe, and then with one puff, scatter the down onto the evening zephyrs.

Finally, what human expression of love and tenderness is more aptly conveyed than a grubby, well stained hand, offering a few yellow posies with all the insight, wonder, and honesty of a small child exclaiming, “Ta, ta Poppa! Pretties!”

The Lion’s Tooth, all heart and soul.