Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Dandelion Web, Revisited

I wrote a piece a little over a year ago about dandelions.  Today, Marci shared this with me:

I like to share the creator of this sort of thing when I use them, which is rare, but, today I was unable to find an original source for this.

Here is the piece I wrote:

The Dandelion Web

Why do people hate them so?  They are beautiful and harmless and, well, let's find out some more...

(Well, that disproves the whole rant I was going to go on about the internet.)  I learned some interesting stuff in just a couple of minutes.  The word "dandelion" comes from the Old French dent-de-lion, or tooth of the lion because they are so long rooted, or toothy, in gardenspeak.  Cool.  However, in modern french the are called pissenlit (or vernacular pisse au lit).  Literally, piss in the bed.

Why is that and why did it sound so perverse?  Well, the plant, when ingested, is a strong diuretic and is known to aid liver and kidney function, effects that have been known to man since prehistory.  That's cool, too.  Every culture where the plant is indigenous has adopted it into their diet, as well.

When I was a boy, sometime in the Spring, Mrs. B - the Mom next door where I grew up - would send us out with old pillowcases and we'd stuff them full of dandelion blooms and stems.  She had a lot of children of her own and she also elicited the help of all the other kids on our rural road in the farmlands of Ohio.  All I actually remember of the process was the smell, earthy and sharp, on our hands and noses, and the look of piles and piles of that yellow blanketing her garage as she crushed them, by foot, into galvanized tubs.  That last thing I remember is that she put water over them all and they sat for a while.  She was making "Dandelion Wine."  I remember tasting it once and it wasn't very good.  It occurs to me now that she was probably making it for more medicinal reasons that for a pleasure drink.  I did not know that.

I have had them a lot in salads, often with a vinegary hot bacon dressing.  It's actually a classic of French Cuisine, frisee au lardon.

So why do people hate them so in their yards?  I don't get that.  They are the same color as daffodils and everyone loves daffodils.  Also, what if we'd have genetically modified dandelions like we have tulips and tomatoes.  I bet by now we would have something really cool, like broad-leaf dandelions, or bush dandelions, or multi headed ones.  We might have manipulated the colors and now we'd have pink and red and white and even variegated tiger-striped ones as big as a fist.

Where did it all go wrong for the dandelion?  They seem to have a respected history, and a modern importance and yet... people poison them and rip them out of the ground violently and leave them to wither and lose their essence wilting in the summer sun.

I don't get it.

You might remember (although I sort of wish you didn't) that I mentioned how I was going to go on about the internet.  How, you might ask, was I planning to segue from dandelions to the world wide web?  Well, I figured when I went to Google the subject that I would get a lot of misinformation and advertisements and false pages and popups and the like.  However, with "safe-search" on in just a few keystrokes there I was, learning about these friendly weeds.  Cool.

Perhaps the internet is like a dandelion, so misunderstood and not used to it's full potential 

I refuse to bore you with that pedestrian, pedantic and, actually, inane analogy.  I'll  wait on the big internet scoop I've got in my head, it's a secret that I know and you should, too.

Oh all right, I'll tell you:  The internet is one big advertisement.

You know what's wrong with dandelions?  You know what their problem is.  You can't see them, understand them, admire them, because they are lost in that stupid sea of green unending lawn.  Maybe that's how these two seemingly unrelated things are connected.  It is very difficult to see the decency in the web because of this sea of tripe that surrounds it...

Note to self: dandelions and the internet are not analogous.

Without dandelions I wouldn't have the sweet story of Nick calling them "puffballs" because you blow on them and they float away.  Without dandelions I wouldn't have the memory of their delighted faces as they watched those seeds drift of in the wind, happy and free, both seed and boy.  Without dandelions there were be fewer yellow hands and noses and not so many wildflower bouquets for Mom:

Without them I wouldn't have this memory:

Or known this joy:

Or had tears in my eyes as I witnessed this sweet coronation:

And, if it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't have a place to share this with you.

Wait!  I did it, I at least reconciled the dandelion and the internet, got them to work together, there at the end where...

Oh nevermind, thanks for stopping by.

In eight words and a simple picture more was accomplished than I got done in all those words and images.  That's cool with me...


  1. I disagree. Yours paints a much more personal picture for posterity. And brings back many old memories that the picture can't.

  2. Dandelions have a bad rep. If we thought of them as flowers and not weeds, then they could be right up there with daffodils as you say. By the way, they look perfectly nice with that bouquet. My wife loves flowers and I am sure she would love that bouquet.

  3. I like the weed/wish picture, but no way it replaces your bigger picture. Thanks to both of you.