Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Every dog(daisy) has its day.

I have put much of this post on my blog before - in its early days. I make no excuses for writing about the same subject again because my readership has increased significantly and, in any case, there have been changes to what I wrote before.

Today, here in the Yorkshire Dales, it is definitely the "Day of the Dandelion". All along the grass verges they are out in their thousands, medallions of bright golden colour, their faces turned to the sun. Even driving to the Supermarket is an uplifting experience - they light the way.

When my first husband was a small boy he lived on the airforce camp at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. Close to where he lived there was an old lady who had been blind for most of her life. Suddenly, during the 1930's an operation became available that would restore her sight.

After the operation she encountered such a day as today, when every dandelion in the country was out in its magnificence. And what did she do? She gathered great armfuls of this glorious flower and filled the house with them, revelling in being able to see their golden splendour.

When we were children the boys used to chase us with dandelions and make us smell them, for smelling a dandelion meant that you would certainly wet the bed that night. The French for dandelion is pissenlit - need I say more?

The poor dandelion is much-maligned. I have put a close-up of one here for you to look at, to marvel at its construction and-hopefully- to question why we despise them so. Alright, they are a nuisance in the garden, putting down a taproot that stretches for miles and being notorious for invading lawns.

A lady I know, a wonderful quilter, made the most spectacular quilt on the life of the dandelion. The first square held an appliqued root with tiny shoots; the last square was a dandelion "clock" with some of its seeds blowing in the wind. And therein lies the secret of its success - those "blowing in the wind" seeds spread far and wide (to misquote Bob Dylan).

When I put this story on before I ended with a poem I had written - and I will do so again. You will see that I have changed the "she" to a "he" - somehow this makes the poem less sentimental (a word I hate) - I don't know why, but I like it better with "he".


he smelled the honeysuckle,
drank in the heavy odour
of the meadowsweet,
held the wild rose,
still wet with dew,
in his fingers;
ran his hand along the bough
of apple blossom,
letting its petals
caress his mouth.
He said their names,
letting the words
roll off his tongue.

he listened to the danger call
of the curlew,
strained to hear the raucous
mew of the high buzzard.
The rapid whistle
of the kingfisher
stopped him in wonder.
The call of the cuckoo
he waited for in Spring.

Then he could see.
He filled his room with
a thousand shining
cramming them into jars
on the kitchen table.
And he stared,
at the simple beauty
of the brown hedge sparrow
as it worked its way quietly
along the hedge.
Enjoy them while they are here. Every dandelion has its day and then it is gone for another year.


Sal said...

First we had the Celandine...now it's the Dandelion..and what about all the blossom this year? Well down here, in South Devon, it is absolutely beautiful! Plus,my Berberis is stunning..and the Japonica!

acornmoon said...

I like your poem very much, we often see familiar things without actually appreciating their details. The dandelion was revered by the Arts and Crafts artists and designers for its amazing structure which lends itself to a decorative interpretation. I remember picking them when I was a child and getting my hands all messy on their sap, I don't think it had a diuretic effect :-)

Teresa said...

Enjoyed your post... and I enjoy dandelions too. I remember making necklaces from them (and other wildflowers) as a child. Guess the fact that I delight in dandelions in the lawn might indicate I'm still a child? :-)

Leilani Lee said...

I rather like the dandelion myself. It doesn't get into trouble here because we don't have a fancy yard with fancy grass. Once upon a time I made wonderful -- and I mean wonderful -- dandelion wine.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Isn't it strange that we use French to get the word dandelion and they call it something else?!
I suppose they are lovely if we forget about the roots!

I like your poem too and am glad it can be just as suitable for a he as a she!

Janice Thomson said...

I too love the cheery bright colour of dandelions - and yes I suppose it is a weed...but then again we pay $9 for a bird-of-paradise stem and it grows as a weed in the hills of Jamaica - probably true of every flower isn't it.
Loved your poignant poem Weave.

maggi said...

This is a lovely post. I was sitting on the bus going to get the car today and suddenly realised that all the verges were washed with the brilliant yellows of dandelions. I love them and the only think I do to them in my garden is try to get to them before their clocks go off and annoy the neighbours.

Cathy said...

I love dandelions. My grandparents used to make a wine with them and we used to eat the greens in the spring.
I love the poem. A few years ago, I asked my boss at the mission what he missed about not being able to see and what would love to see first if he could see again. He told me he missed seeing his food and he wished he could see a huge plate of barbecue ribs infront of him one more time. I'm sure the blind would have all sorts of answers but I found his very funny but he is a meat and potatoes kinda guy.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

I like dandelions, too—and have a posting in the works on just that. If the plants weren't so ubiquitous we'd doubtless extol the beauty of their bright yellow blooms. It's their commonness that works against them.

I grew up eating dandelion greens—the cooked leaves, usually picked before the flowers appear. You parboiled a few minutes, poured that water off, then finished the cooking and flavored with a bit of bacon grease, salt, pepper, and perhaps a splash of vinegar. We had them for dozens of meals in the spring—going afield and picking huge baskets which we brought home, cleaned, cooked, and put into freezer packets or canned. They are still my favorite green.

I liked the poem and story.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Love the poem, Weaver.

I also love dandelions. We have them in multitudes by the roadsides too, and they look exuberant. They're not a problem in the garden if you catch 'em quick - and of course, we have our friendly snails to chew them!!

I rather like dandelion coffee - have you ever tried it? (I recommend the commercially produced kind - a friend of mine at college made some herself once, and it tasted like I imagine the contents of a carpet sweeper would taste!!)

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Heather said...

Your poem is beautiful and reminds us of how much we take for granted. The dandelion is a very useful plant and can provide us with a coffee substitute, salad greens and wine as well as it's medicinal properties. Hundreds of years ago it would have been welcomed in the garden and I believe it is still cultivated in parts of France today. Someone should write a poem 'Ode to the Dandelion'!!

EB said...

Now that's a good poem. I like that very much. Lovely story too - and indeed I put some dandelions in little jars on the table only a few days ago. It only works during daylight though because they shut up so thoroughly at night.

gleaner said...

Loved the story and the poem. I am a fan of Dandelions and also its medicinal and herbal qualities, particularly as a liver tonic or substitute for coffee.

Thanks for visiting me and leaving a message.

willow said...

I really enjoyed your poem, Ms. Weaver. The charming little dandelions have sprung in Ohio, too!

Cloudia said...

I for one am happy that you brought out some earilier treasures.
Aloha, wonderful Weaver

dubois said...

Dandelions are great for cleansing the liver. Gather some leaves and make as if making a pot of tea. Leave to cool and drink three times a day. The best liver tonic there is.

Arija said...

Dandilions are so wonderful, their shining golden heds and the way their milk stains your hands and clothes and yet as children we could never resist making dandilion chains.
I lile your story and oiem very much.

The Weaver of Grass said...

So - we are all agreed here - we all love dandelions. We can eat them, drink them, admire them, but must remember to remove the flowers before they go to seed, otherwise they will engulf us all.
Thanks for the comments.

jinksy said...

It's so nice to see a bit of praise for the humble, though prolific dandelion. Loved the poem, as it drew the attention to how much we rely on our eyes and forget the other senses. x

Rachel Fox said...

How lovely to focus on something so taken for granted/disliked!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love your poetry.

pinkrelish said...

I found this poem exquisite in it's execution and I do like the he
and him... and honeysuckle vine together as well...

Mr Snippets said...

I too have noticed a proliferation of these marvellous plants in our locale.
I remember in my childhood waiting for them to turn over to seed so that I could play "What's the time Mr Wolf"
It is interesting that the flower in French is the Pissinlit because we derive it's name from the French Dentdelion - meaning the teeth of a lion, referring to it's large jagged or indented leaves. Like many French words, we seem never to get the pronunciation quite right. I had a bit of a shock when I first saw your header picture. I thought I had a largish garden but when I found my glasses I was able to read more clearly.lol!

Nita said...

What a lovely poem! I agree it works well with he.
I love the dandelions! They make me happy seeing them and they smell interesting not like sweetness,but thier unique scent!

They remind me of my mother. A herb loreist and plant lover who would dart out of the car or on walks to dig them up from strangers yards or in parking lots. You can saute the flowers in butter and the greens are cooked like spinach or eatten raw with salad.

Sometimes she worked as a gardener for a wealthy elderly couple and they were often sick. She is strong as an ox in her 70's ... pulled their dandilions and brought them home. She said if only they appreciated the nutricinal and medicinal value of dandelion. "Weed" is only a human label of no real significance

YowlYY said...

I love dandelions - the colour is fantastic. My bunnies love dandelions too - Miss Eve has a preference for the yellow flower, which she'll eat first, and then come the leaves.

Mary Sharpe said...

As someone who chose the Dandelion for a blogging symbol - well . . . I very much agree!

Mary Sharpe