Monday Musings…Dandelion Whine

One of the sure signs of spring is the return of the blanket of yellow dandelions that like to lie out over your luxurious lawn. For some reason, these plants have never been accepted among the favoured flowers, but instead they find themselves in a perennial position among the weed pile.

And so, without fail, the War on Weeds is upon us! We need a strategy to combat these vegetative vermin. How exactly can we cast out these pervasive plants?

Well, a family in my neighbourhood came up with an excellent solution! Somehow, they convinced their currently homeschooled, pre-teen son that it was time for a little outdoor education! They armed him with a three-claw garden weeder, and a bucket. I don’t know how they got him to do it, but they likely tried to convince him that this activity would reinforce the curriculum on mathematics, mobility, and moral development. And as an added bonus, he (and his family) would be proud to display a perfectly manicured front lawn…that is until they wake up the next day and find that despite the boy’s finest efforts, more dandelions were birthed overnight! Guess this might be part of the daily school ritual for the next couple of weeks.

The War on Weeds can be very frustrating, especially for perfectionists who pride themselves on having the most pristine property on the block. But whether you employ your son’s time or spend your money on the Weed Man, its often a losing battle. After all, if your neighbour enjoys nature in its untouched state, you have no hope. The wonderful wind will disperse the daring dandelion seed from his pesticide-free pasture and ever so delicately have it land on your luxurious lawn. Germination only takes 2 weeks, so you can have continuous cascade of the fair-haired florae throughout the entire growing season!

Oh, the things that upset us and the efforts we go to, to correct what nature delivers us year after year. It doesn’t matter if it’s dandelions in the spring, garden weeds in the summer, leaves in the fall, or snow in the winter, just when we think we have cleared them out, more suddenly appear. Season after season, the work and the whining continue.

But I’ve always believed that when you can’t change the circumstances around you, when there are perennial problems, you’ve got to find a way to turn your frown upside down. It’s way better than complaining, which does nothing except drag you into the doldrums.

So, when you think of all the things or people that annoy you, is it possible that they’re actually not as irritating as they seem?

Consider the dandelion. What we think of as a pesky plant is actually quite useful. According to the dandelion offers a plethora of possibilities for using every part of the plant – zero waste! The leaves can be thrown into soups or salads; the flower buds can be added into omelettes, fritters, and cakes; the pollen can be decoratively sprinkled onto food; the blossoms can be made into a syrup (I’ve actually done this and it tastes great on pancakes) or a beverage; and the roots can even be used as a coffee substitute! And to convince you further of the value of the dandelion, they are chuck full of vitamins and minerals, namely: vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, beta carotene, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese! Dandelions really are selfless plants, as they also give back to the environment by providing pollen and nectar for bees and other insects to help other vegetation grow.

So, stop complaining when you see the field of yellow on your lawn. No need to grab for the cereal box anymore Mom and Dad. Have the kids harvest some dandelions for that nutritional boost and added educational experience for the home economics class. No need to risk going to the grocery store. There’s an abundant supply of golden goodness practically at your door step. And it won’t cost you a dime! Stop the whining - now you're winning!

It’s amazing isn’t it, how we learn to judge something’s value or usefulness? How we label negatively and so readily discard? How we complain about how irritating some things or people are? How they mess up our plans for our perfect world?

The dandelion was created, just like you and me, for a purpose, though the world and even you may doubt it. It’s not the unsightly wasteful weed, that most of humanity claims it to be. No, it’s packed full of essential substances that produce tremendous benefits for everything in the environment from the insects, to the surrounding plants, to the animals, and also to us. I’m not sure how much more useful you can get. And yet, we despise it.

So, check your thinking, adjust your attitude, and don’t be so easily swayed by unsubstantiated opinions that devalue. What appears lowly or unsightly, may in fact be majestic! And when you realize that, you might just see the dandelion as the most esteemed plant in your yard!

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