02 April 2012


There are many signs associated with the coming of Spring: the appearance of red-breasted robins, buds opening on the trees, young men’s fancies turning to love, the blooming of crocuses and the greening of lawns. Outside my cabin is another signal: snuggling still close to the ground are a first clump this year’s first bright yellow dandelions. Soon, I know, my front yard will be covered with the yellow spine-like petals of these pesky plants, and in a week or three their willowy, cottony seeds will blow about in the wind to sow next year’s carpet. The feathery filaments will blanket my window screens.
Lawn aficionados, in order to maintain the purity of their grass carpets, will spray their yards to kill these invading and unsightly weeds, but I know what to one man is a weed to another is a flower. When the mower comes the blade treats them all with equal destruction. I wonder when manicured lawns became popular amongst the common folk. I know the great expansive lawns of the palaces of England and France were carefully designed and carefully kept, but when our plots of land came to require such grooming I am not certain. I am certain something of our culture can be understood from this historical account, but I am not inclined to search it out. There are, I know,  communities where grass left unkempt is punishable by a monetary fine.
It would seem of late that gasoline-powered mowers crop very close to the ground giving the lawn the appearance of putting greens on a golf course or buzz cuts (or crew cuts) on a young girl or boy. No untamed nature for us: our gardens are carefully designed, meticulously weeded and shaped. And when we head out for the wild, we take with us our iPods, our televisions our laptop computers and DVD players. Civilization makes little room for uncultivated nature.
I am not a nature lover in the sense of wanting to be out in it, though I do like to look out upon it. I hold with Fran Leibowitz: “The great outdoors is lovely . . . so they tell me.” My idea of camping is a motel without cable access. But today I appreciate my dandelions, and though they will be soon decapitated by the lawn mower, for a short while they are the earth’s suns.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post on "dandelions" since I have recently been thinking about them and how differently people view them.
I am blessed to teach kindergarteners and we recently took a trip to a local nursery. During the requisite tour, some of the children seemed dismayed that they could not pick the blossoms that beckoned!
We were then outside briefly as we left one building to enter another. Some of the children ran from the group to hastily pick some nearby dandelions. Some carried their "treasure" as if it were gold...and golden they were! Others presented me with their golden bouquets with smiles just as sunny!
I was struck by the thought of the quote on one of my coffee mugs: "Happiness is making a bouquet from the flowers within reach." It made me realize once again that children (well SOME children these days!) can be so happy with simplicity until we educate them otherwise...and teach them that dandelions are noxious weeds to be eradicated.
Perhpas the children should be teaching us!

05 May, 2012 21:38  

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