Dandelions—are they friend or foe?

“Weeds!”
The cry rings out as the relentless wave of yellow washes from fence-row to fence-row.
The “lawn-keepers” are out in full force, armed with hand trowels and herbicides. I expect to see them dressed in army fatigues sporting this year’s model of the gas mask.
“Another one!” I hear someone scream as he charges across the lawn, falling to his knees to dig up the yellow villain before it’s too late.
What we really need to do, instead, is call back the inner child that moved out right before a green lawn became a priority. Surely there is a yoga pose that could resemble a lion’s tooth (dents de lion, the jagged shape of the dandelion’s leaf).
Close your eyes and do some deep breathing. Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. You can do it.
Now, imagine you are sitting on the front steps of your childhood home. Ooo-eee-aye-ahh. A chant can’t hurt. Ooo-eee-aye-ahh.
You have a small dish of water sitting beside you (I was partial to margarine containers, but a glass bowl works nicely as long as your inner child is a careful one). You are tearing dandelion stems into long strips. You drop one carefully into the water and. . . .
It’s magic! Remember the surprise? You look around for witnesses of this spectacular event. Oh, the designs those curled stems create. Unbelievable!
You also can paint your younger siblings’ chins yellow with the flower that remains after the stems have been used, in the name of research, a study to determine a preference for butter.
Or what about the notion that if you fell into a lawn thick with yellow dandelions, your fall would be softened—your injury not even worth crying about.
Dandelion jewellery? Headbands and bracelets, stems and flowers woven together? Ringing any bells? Surely, all of the above have not completely faded from your child-memory.
Perhaps a little more chanting: ooo-eee-aye-ahh.
I think we’ve all become cynics, our imaginations squashed beneath the weight of global politics and the state of our economy. We’ve lost sight of the dandelion’s annual attempt to remind us not to give up.
You can cut your lawn in the morning and by afternoon, the dandelions are stretching skyward—determined and tenacious.
Dandelions do not grow wild in the southern hemisphere. We are the lucky witnesses of their magnificence. Arabian physicians used dandelions for medicine more than 1,000 years ago.
A wise traveller brought dandelion seed to Canada in the early 1700s to ensure his dietary needs would be met. That’s right. You can thank old Uncle Philippe of Toulouse for his forethought.
Dandelions are rich in calcium and phosphorous, potassium and iron, and vitamins A, B, C, and D.
Dandelions are happy to grow anywhere (in fact, are eager to grow everywhere) yet we determined and sometimes foolish Canadians spend huge sums of money each year to stop the spread of yellow, to halt it at the edge of our property, scorning and berating the neighbour who does not.
I think more than one neighbourhood squabble was initiated by a tremor in the yellow force.
The lawn beside my home is pristine, not a hint of yellow anywhere inside the fence. Then I lift my eyes to the surrounding farmland, to soak up the sunshine that is growing in the hayfields, and my childhood is restored.
Try my suggestion. Or join a support group offering help to individuals with senseless behaviour that requires modification. You could begin by apologizing to flowers everywhere, especially those which grow without any encouragement from us.
Then you can use your free time to focus on ending world poverty or the common cold. Time better spent.
Or if you are desperate for the demise of something, target the burdock plant. Now there’s eradication I could get behind.
wendistewart@live.ca

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