One of my favorite things about spring is that special moment, the blooming of the dandelions.
Look, it's going to happen whether I like it or hate it, so I might as well enjoy it. Acceptance takes less effort, and I'm all about less effort.
Nature gifts me with a soft blanket of bright, golden blooms that covers my entire lawn, like stars winking in a moonless summer sky.
They feel fantastic on bare feet, which happens to be my favorite style of shoe.
And these sunny blooms are given to you - here, take them, they're yours, free, all you could want! It's like magic. You don't have to plant them, or water them, or hire a yard management service to take care of them.
And the real beauty, by not doing a thing, nothing at all, you can share this happy gift with ALL of your neighbors! All it takes is a mild breeze and a little time and the entire neighborhood can enjoy the bounty of your generosity. My neighbors adore me.
They point when I walk by. "There goes the dandelion guy." I smile and wave. "You're welcome!" I know that makes their day. And I know they appreciate the gift of nature they receive, because I always hear them, on their hands and knees in their yards, chanting, "Oh, God..."
What could be more summery than the lovely, durable yellow blossoms, that last all summer long? They're a grin on a stem. It's no accident, people, that the "smiley face" logo is the exact same shade as the dandelion.
The name even says "dandy." Kids can paint their noses yellow with them or blow their seeds for good luck - not much fun to be had with geraniums.
And dandelions never harmed anyone. They have no thorns to jab you, like the roses I used to spend a small fortune trying to grow in my backyard. Unlike the mushrooms and mystery berries sprouting in my front yard, I don't have to wonder if they are poisonous.
In fact, if you are ever stranded in the woods (or in my yard), the entire dandelion plant is edible. Voila - you're saved!
The new green leaves are best for salads, before they form the familiar but more bitter-tasting saw-tooth shape (Dent-de-lion is French for "lion teeth"). They wilt quickly, so gather as many as you can and then drop them into cold water to keep them crisp, or you can pickle 'em.
"Mother Earth News" recommends a dressing of homemade yogurt mixed with vegetable stock, herbs, cayenne pepper, sesame oil and lemon juice. They also work in a fruit salad with apples and nuts, or in an egg salad or potato salad. You can make the flowers into fritters, according to an Irish recipe I found. Drop the yellow part into a batter made from equal parts flour and milk. Mix the flowers in until it is thick, perhaps with some oats for texture or some chives or other herbs for flavor. Fry the mixture like a pancake until golden brown on both sides. In some parts of the world, dandelions are also prized in Kim chi recipes.
Just make sure you don't pick areas where people spray pesticide or near high-traffic roads.
Why do people work so hard to kill dandelions? I've seen them weed 'til their knees bleed, spray enough chemicals to kill a herd of buffalo, to get rid of the colorful flowers - so they can plant colorful flowers.
What makes people wear Save the Dolphins shirts while they eat a tuna sandwich? Probably the same thing that convinces them that peonies and daisies flowers are wonderful and dandelion flowers are horrible.
Maybe its just that a flower is no good unless you plant it. Can't be having flowers go rogue and plant themselves. Before you know it they will be joining gangs.
Again, I subscribe heartily to the philosophy that no work is the best work. If you can snooze in a hammock and your yard is planted in flowers for you, well then who am I to argue with nature's plan.
Most people seem to desire a lawn as plain as green Astro-Turf. Maybe if I was Arnold Palmer and using the thing for a putting green, I could see the effort.
But I like a little bio-diversity in my space. If something goes to all the work to grow there, it's welcome. And I see no need to cut the grass until the possums start leaving bread crumbs to find their way out.
I'm sure the neighbors admire me for this, too. Think of it as cutting America's dependence on fossil fuels.
From my extremely non-exhaustive research, no one in the history of the world ever seemed to hate dandelions, or think twice about them, for that matter, until wealthy people with nothing better to worry about started moving into U.S. suburbs.
In 1921, a book called "A Lawn Without Dandelions" reported that homeowners across America were suddenly trying make their grounds as geometric and seamless as that of their rivals down the street, and dandelions had become their chief nemesis. Calling the dandelions the "Yellow Peril" and challenging homeowners to a "Survival of the Fittest," the pamphlet said the job of getting rid of them was "not for a boy, or for Mr. Shiftless, but for a he-man with all his senses alert."
Okay, that leaves me out.
You know what I like most about dandelions?
No matter how much people trample them, they survive and keep on blooming.
You've known that feeling... haven't you?