Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Eye of the Beholder

When I went to get the mail this morning, I was amazed to see all these bright yellow flowers all over our yard. It seemed as though some fairy came and planted them overnight. They were everywhere! We were the only yard blessed in the neighborhood with so many sunny cheerful little blossoms, yes, we had more of them than anyone. So, I got my garden gloves and trowel and pulled every one of those suckers out. I think it took me an hour and a half--I had to get the ones popping up in the side yard, too. I filled a whole garbage bag full.
I noticed as I moved from one side of the yard to the other, that the weeds were bigger as I progressed. I surmised the the original culprit probably was on the other side of the driveway, and yes, there was only one that had developed and gone to seed. I was pulling up all its little babies that had sprouted up and bloomed all over the yard. But as I progressed, I was thinking of those days a long time ago when I loved these flowers and their puff balls, too.
My best friend, Veronica, and I would pick large bouquets of dandylions for our moms. Tons of them. We were so thoughtful and we really thought that they were beautiful. Everything else that grew we could not touch, but here were all these blossoms for free. We made chains of them for bracelets, necklaces and crowns. We even made dandylion rings, one for each finger. Our dolls had flower jewelry, too. Our creativity was unleashed with all the abundence of these wonderful flowers. When they turned to puffballs we blew them to ensure a continual crop of them.
I looked up the properties of dandylions online, to figure out a better and easier way to kill them. It was fascinating. It seems like my favorite childhood flower is a source of food and medicine. According to Wikipedia:
While the dandelion is considered a weed by many gardeners and lawn owners, the plant does have several culinary and medicinal uses. Dandelions are grown commercially at a small scale as a leaf vegetable. The plant can be eaten cooked or raw in various forms, such as in soup or salad. They are probably closest in character to mustard greens. Usually the young leaves and unopened buds are eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are cooked. Raw leaves have a slightly bitter taste. Dandelion salad is often accompanied with hard boiled eggs. The leaves are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach.[3]
Dandelion flowers can be used to make dandelion wine. The recipe usually contains citrus fruit. Another recipe using the plant is dandelion flower jam. Ground roasted dandelion root can be used as a coffee substitute. Drunk before meals, it is believed to stimulate digestive functions. Sold in most health food stores, often in a mixture, it is considered an excellent cleansing tonic for the liver.

Main article: Medicinal properties of dandelion
Dandelion root is a registered drug in Canada, sold as a diuretic. A leaf decoction can be drunk to "purify the blood", for the treatment of anemia, jaundice, and also for nervousness. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent; the milk is also applied to warts, helping get rid of them without damaging the surrounding skin. A dye can also be obtained from the roots of the plant. A new mixture of roasted roots is sold as a product called DandyBlend which tastes like coffee after the inulin in the dandelion is roasted."Dandelion and Burdock" is a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom with authentic recipes sold by health food shops. It is unclear whether cheaper supermarket versions actually contain either plant.This plant also is useful in farming, because its deep, strong roots break up hardpan.
So, one flower has many perspectives. For a little girl, a free form art medium and temporary jewels. A mom, a token of love. A cook, nutritious greens or jam or a coffee replacement. A doctor, wart remover. And a farmer, a natural soil tiller. And for gardeners like me, a weed.
And as it is with the humble dandylion, so it is with many things in life.

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