Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Wonder

D is for dandelion.

Other flowers may be beautiful, colorful, interesting or, even, incredible for their unique design but not one can compete with the dandelion for my affection. My son knows I like them so much that I received my first spring dandelions this year in a photo. I almost didn't find any around our neighborhood to take some photos for this post. But, I went on my own lion hunt and found a few in a field under the power lines.

This love affair began when I was a small child and the dandelion was the only flower that I was allowed to pick. My mother had many a bouquet of dandelions presented to her during my summers. When I was six, I remember my friend Bev and I creating a wonderful mud cake elaborately decorated with dandelion heads and loose petals. We offered it to our little brothers whom we believed would be gullible enough to eat it. They weren't.

The dandelion, humble in its ubiquity, is the king of the plant world to me. It's fuzzy bright flower shines like the summer sun. It always makes me smile. This glorious 'weed' is a great gift, demanding nothing at all and giving so much.

A dandelion will grow almost anywhere - in abundance. Dandelion flowers will make a delicious wine. The leaves are used in herbal medicines and as a fresh spring green in salads. The stems were a source of fascination for me as a child, as well. I enjoyed making chains with the hollow stems. I didn't enjoy the brown stains on my hands from the sap in the stems. And, having experimented once, I really disliked the bitter taste of that white juice which got on my lips when I tried to turn the stem into a whistle.

They grow strong and healthy - I've never seen a spindly dandelion. They have deep tenacious roots and the strength to push up through the pavement. Dandelions are what the plant books call a vigorous seeder. But again, this seeding business is done with style and fun. Kids, big and small, can help to spread the splendor of the dandelion.

And I know that the name is a corruption of the French for 'lion's teeth' but I prefer it to mean 'dandy lion'. It is such a cheeky, showy wildflower.

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