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Column: Dandelions

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I mow them down, right to where there are none left at all. Sometimes I mow them north and south, and then just to make sure, I mow them east and west. I go to bed at night thinking: "Well, finally, they're gone." Then I get up in the morning, look out at the yard, and there they are, standing tall like a round-helmeted army, thumbing their white, fluffy tops at me, as I drive on out the driveway.

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An army of dandelions - vigorous, healthy, completely resistant to the sword of steel rotating a thousand times a minute under my lawn mower.

The word "dandelion" comes from the French language. The French thought that the sharp teeth on the leaves looked like lion's teeth. The word "dent," of course, means teeth. "De" means "of." And the word "lion" needs no translation. Dent-de-lion, or lion's tooth.

In other words, they're tough.

I've read over and over how they're good for many things, like salad (I tried some once. Apparently I'm not hungry enough, or don't have enough cow or goat in me. Anything that bitter must be really good for you, is the obvious conclusion.).

They're good for herbal remedies for stuff that's wrong with you. (There's some comfort there. I guess I don't have anything wrong with me.) And of course, darn them, they have a pretty yellow blossom. (Isn't that always the way it is with something that looks good? But isn't?)

I think they have conversations out there in the ranks. One of the things they're saying at the morning dandelion clubhouse is how to survive another day. Dandelion one says: "I hope that guy with the fast sword doesn't find out our stems are akin to human toenails." Says another: "Yeah. Boy, it feels good to be trimmed." And then they compliment themselves on tricking me into mowing the lawn every day.

I Googled "killing dandelions" and came up with 313,000 ways to do it; 312,999 ways involve an herbicide. There was one obviously deluded homeowner out there who went out and dug them up one by one.

Since these dandelions are in my chemical-free apple orchard, there goes 312,999 ways of getting rid of them; I'm also not deluded enough to dig up, at a conservative estimate, 312,999 dandelions, which is at least how many there are out there. Not to add that digging 312,999 holes in the yard would look even worse.

Then I stumbled across "making wine with dandelions." Hmmmm. "Delicious," says one post. "A rare treat," says another. "Very high alcohol content," says yet a third.

I often tell students that almost always, the solution to your problems, be they personal or technical, are almost always right in front of you. You just have to choose.

Should you drive in, I'll be out there in the yard. Should you see me crawling around, communing with the pretty yellow blossoms, you can consider the fact that, since I am in fact retiring from my teaching job at the tech school, I'm officially - and actually - "out to pasture."

Only then must you make the decision: Is he collecting blossoms for the wine?

Or has he already consumed all of it, and can no longer walk?

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