Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ode to the Dandilion.

ICD Disclaimer: Like my sorbet or soy gelato, this post is completely dairy-free. Sometimes, I like to use this blog as my own little creative writing outlet. It seems this is one of those times. Read on if you’d like or feel free to go back to what you were doing and come on back soon. I’m sure I’ll be ranting about something ice creamish soon, most likely a wacky new bacon flavor, a bit of Easthampton trivia, or what I did with my Tuesday morning.

Thanks for sticking around. I call this one my ‘Ode to the Dandelion’.

Last fall, I got a great housewarming gift from one of those cool regulars who, when they come to the shop for ice cream or their weekly allotment of Indigo coffee beans, it feels more like a friend popping by for a hello than a ‘how may I help you today?’ Whenever one of her family or friends buys a new house, she buys them 150 daffodil bulbs as a housewarming gift. It’s just what she does. Last year, when she got wind I had bought a house, she instantly informed me I should soon expect my doorstep to be darkened by a large box of bulbs from The Netherlands or Holland, Michigan. True to her word, the bulbs arrived last fall, just before the ‘pre-first frost planting window’ closed. I went right out and bought myself one of those fancy bulb hole digger contraptions and proceeded to spend a good long morning planting these hundred and a half bulbs, along with a few others (tulips, hyacinths, etc.) I’d purchased myself, all around my new yard. I held no high expectations that anything would actually happen come Spring. I was simply covered with dirt and chock full of hope.

Wouldn’t you know, thanks to my friend Rema’s generous gift and those few hours of bulb burying last fall, my yard right now has been transformed into a mini Keunkhof wonder garden. I went for a run a few mornings ago, and as I was cooling down with a walk around my little estate in the (East)Hamptons, I admired the impressive explosion of color and feast for bees that I, and the previous owners, had fostered. ‘Almost looks like I know what I’m doing,’ I mumbled to myself as I wholeheartedly albeit figuratively patted myself on the back and took a little time to sniff the flowers.

And then I stepped on a dandelion.

‘So what’, you say, it’s just a weed after all. A prop for kids to sing a silly song then pop the yellow flower off its stem with their little thumb. The typical reaction of a lawn owner to the sight of a dandelion, or two hundred, is most definitely not the same one my 150 daffodils have been getting from the neighbors these past few weeks, that’s for sure. I believe it’s something more like, ‘Oh crap, time to go pick weeds out of the lawn again.’

Which of course got me thinking… why is a tulip beautiful to us yet a similarly flowering annual, or is it perennial, gets its head popped off or finds its untimely end amongst a crop dusting of poison whenever it finds itself in the middle of someone’s precious green lawn?

And why am I stepping on a dandelion whilst at the same time gazing lustfully at a bed of purple hyacinths?

My wonderings got me to the usual destination of such mental unknowing, Google, and from there, Winkipedia. Perhaps the dandelion was responsible for some heinous and unspeakable crime back in its earlier days. Maybe it was to be the Dandelionflower that was originally slated to shuttle over our forefathers four score and seven plus a hundred years ago. That is until the sordid past of the dandelion was revealed, to the shock and horror of villagers across England, resulting in the bow of one ship full of rebel pilgrims scraped clean and redubbed Mayflower, just in the nick of time as it readied itself for that historic transatlantic cruise.

But I digress. Winkipedia covers all the usual aspects – origins, properties, uses. Midway through there’s a line, ‘Dandelions are fondly thought of throughout the world.’ And why not, they ‘contain abundant amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium’. Winky goes on to tell me dandelions are part of traditional Mediterranean, Asian, and Korean cooking and even have medicinal uses in many areas of the world. This versatile yellow flower is used to make wine, fancy teas, and even coffee. Hardly sounds like the resume of a weed to me. Perhaps it might help if we referred to them by their formal name - Taraxacum?

If I were a dandelion, I’d be feeling pretty good about myself right now actually, but since I’m not, my mind returns to my original pondering - why do tulips end up lounging in fancy glass vases in the center of long mahogany dining tables while the dandy ones compost in the composter?

In other words, who got to decide which flower is beautiful and which one is not?

After all, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Can we start a petition or a Facebook fan page declaring dandilions the ‘in’ flower? How cool would it be if you were to wake up one Spring morning to a sea of dandilions in your front lawn and be able to say, ‘Wow, that’s so beautiful! I’m never mowing again. Where’s my camera?’

Ah, but if only my brain could stop there.

My next thought was, ‘Who decided that suntans make a person more beautiful?’ Tanning booth anyone? And ‘What makes teenage girls so mean to each other when one doesn’t conform exactly to their magazine-influenced image of ‘beautiful’? Then there’s the whole plastic surgery thing. Not sure I need to even turn onto that street right now - suffice to say, it seems like a lot of pain, risk, and expense to pay for a little self-confidence booster. Again I wonder, who got to decide what’s beautiful and what isn’t?

After all, isn’t beauty only skin, er stem, deep anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a beautiful form when I see one, whether it be on a big screen, in a magazine, or walking down Cottage Street with her dog.

Of course, none of these vain thoughts stop me from wondering why I find what I find about these people beautiful. Although I suppose the good news is one I find beautiful may not be the same one you do, and viseversa. I'd venture so far to surmise that everyone is beautiful to someone. Shouldn't that be enough?

I can’t say I have the answer to that question, or most others for that matter, but the thought is enough for me to lift my foot off a small gathering of dandilions under my sneaker, lean over, and snap a picture.

1 comment:

Mattenylou said...

Great post! I'm trying to appreciate my dandelions a bit more, they've been here long before us and will outlast us, for sure! We have to admire their persistence.