Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dandelions and Milk Weeds

“Can we water the flowers?” asked my ten-year-old daughter this morning.

“Sure!” I replied.

A few minutes later, my toddler and I watched from the couch as my two older daughters walked around the front yard with pitchers of water.

I looked bemusedly at my nine-year-old, who stopped to water the dandelions on the front lawn. My first impulse was to open the window and yell, “Don’t water the dandelions!”

Then I remembered what dandelions were to a child.

In their baby stage, dandelions are temptingly soft, white heads of seeds that you can pick and blow into the air as you make a wish. Adults cringe at this because they know the seeds will make more dandelions.

In their advanced stage, dandelions are pretty, yellow, hardy flowers that brighten up an otherwise boring expanse of green. If you pick them and make your mother a bouquet, the reception might not be as exultant as you might expect.

“Why are dandelions weeds?” every child wants to know.

They just are. Somebody somewhere, maybe the people who sell lawn weed control, decided that dandelions are undesirables.

What a great name they have been given! Dandy Lions. They seem so happy, dandy, and innocent, but those roots are real lions. I worked at some this afternoon with my handy scratcher. If my more desirable flowers were so stubborn and hardy, I would be so pleased!

I remembered an experience my mother once had with her garden. She found a beautiful flower of unknown origin growing in her garden. She split up the clumps and planted them in even groupings across the front garden.

A friend drove up and exclaimed, “What beautiful milk weeds you have grown!”

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