Thursday, May 1, 2008

and I don't eat 'em, either

This time of year, it's not unusual for me to see dandelions when I close my eyes at night. Robust, vigorous, brilliantly green-leafed, sunshine-yellow dandelions, growing up through the grass. I see them because I spend a part of each day pulling them out of the struggling grass in my back yard. I even have a special tool to pull dandelions. I hate dandelions. I cannot express that strongly enough.

In my earliest memory of dandelions, I don't hate them, actually. A neighborhood child (who it was is lost in the mists of time) and I have picked large bouquets of dandelions and I marvel at their intense color. The other child encourages me to present my bouquet to my mother, and although I sense that is a bad idea, I give them to her anyway. She quickly abuses me of the notions that they are a)beautiful b) flowers or c) an appropriate gift to give her. She tells me to throw them away and go wash my hands.

I have one other memory of my mother and dandelions. The only work I can ever remember her doing in our tiny back yard or our even tinier front yard was when she would go outside on a spring evening after dinner with an old kitchen paring knife, and cut dandelions out of the lawn. She must have hated them alot to do that.

I have been told that dandelions were introduced to the U.S. by the A. I. Root Company in Medina, Ohio for the benefit of their honeybees. The closest thing I could find to a verification of that is this: "They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. " I found that information, for what it's worth, at this website: Damn them to hell, if it is true. What a curse they brought upon our land.

None of us like to think that we have become - or are becoming - our parents, but when I do battle with my mortal enemies, the dandelions, I think of my mother, bent awkwardly at the waist, cutting dandelions out of the yard on a warm spring evening. It's not the worst trait I could have inherited from her.


Bryan said...

There's a chapter in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten espousing what a great plant the dandelion is, but I tend to side with you. No matter how colorful or free or nutritilicious they are, I just can't get past the smell. Say the word 'dandelion' and all I can think of is that nasty oil all over my fingers when I was a kid. I can almost taste it. Blechh!

Ben said...

Confessions Of A Dandelion Eater

I grew up on the occasional dandelion salad. I liked it - it was a treat. Dandelion leaves are bitter to protect them from bugs. Ever notice dandelion leaves don't get eaten by bugs? So the trick is to pick only the youngest leaves. The sun helps produce the bitter oil, so picking early in the morning helps. Even then you have to load up on salad dressing. Click for tasty recipe. But really it's not much more bitter than endive. Still I guess there is the whole concept of eating a weed.

anne mancine said...

Yeah, also we have two dogs who do their business in the back yard.