Early Dandelion

Dandelion in half-bloom

Dandelion in half-bloom

About this time of year, I find myself searching for signs of life.  This used to be more challenging when the ground was covered in snow and the temperatures were far below freezing.  Having move about 500 miles South, I don’t have to search hard to find a little color even at the end of January.

That said, I was still surprised to discover a dandelion attempting to bloom.  In fact, it was making some darn good progress.  I expect it will be fully open in another day or two if we don’t get a severe freeze.

Dandelions are one of those plants that I want to hate but I just can’t help but enjoy.  I know they’re an invasive introduced by European immigrants.  I know people hate to see them in their lawn (although I prefer a yard full of dandelions over a yard with nothing but grass).  Yet, there is something eternally cheerful about a dandelion.

perhaps it’s their sunny color against what is often a field of green.  Or maybe it’s the pure audacity of these little buggers in their insistence in popping up in the tiniest crevice.  How many times have you seen a dandelion blooming from what seems like an endless expanse of concrete only to discover a microscopic crack the flower has magically sprung from?  I suspect dandelions have some sort of jack hammer technology that allows them to forge through every manmade surface we can invent and make their way to the sun.

It’s probably not about the color or the persistence, to be honest.  It’s probably about my childhood memories of growing up in a house with an herbicide-free lawn (more because of the frugalness of my parents than because of any environmental or health concerns) that always had a healthy population of dandelions.

I used to pick them and make what seemed like giant bouquets for my mother.  She was always so pleased by the thoughtfulness that she would put them in a vase and act like I’d brought her a dozen roses.  In fact, I think she preferred them to roses.  They were the only flower I was allowed to pick.  I assume this was because it was the only one I could readily identify, so my mom didn’t have to worry about me picking any intentionally grown flowers this way.

I remember learning how to tell if you like butter by holding a blooming dandelion under your chin to see if it reflected yellow light onto your skin.  Of course, it always did unless it was near dark.  And, of course, we blew dandelion seeds off the head as we made a wish, just sure it would come true.  When I was a little older, I learned to tie the dandelion stems together to make crowns and bracelets and necklaces.

Dandelions were a renewable, cheap, and available resource that required only a little imagination to turn into something incredibly fun.  <sigh>  Life was so simple.