Ode to the Lion’s Tooth

This deserves an annual reprise:
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.
So just what is this hated 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, for instance, 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 (just ask Scrounger).
Environmentally a real friend. It’s 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 one day may 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 not remember 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.

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