Consider the lowly dandelion. Is there any other plant more detested by gardeners, lawn-lovers, and golf-course keepers? Just search “how to get rid of dandelions” online and dozens of products come up from highly toxic weed killers (one warns that their product, if not used correctly, can kill bushes or even nearby trees!) to the “Garden Guru Dandelion Weeder Tool with Ergonomic Handle.” (Try saying that fast three times!) In short, dandelions are often labeled invasive, unwelcome, intolerable, loathsome. They are a good-for-nothing weed.
Or are they?
If you take the time to look at a dandelion flower up close, you will see it is quite beautiful–especially its bright golden color. And another beautiful thing about the dandelion, is its magical transformation from a silky yellow flower to a round seed head of white fluffy little parachutes—with a single seed attached to each one. When the conditions are right, these parachutes are so highly effective that they can be dispersed by the wind to distances almost a mile away!
The popular name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion (tooth of the lion) which refers to their jagged leaves. As a child, I thought their name was really “dandy lion” because the flower resembled a lion’s mane! Writer Howard Hanger, in his book Drink Deeply with Delight, says this about dandelions: “That lowly, bad-mouthed weed is one of the gutsiest and most amazingly beautiful and prolific plants in all of creation.” No matter what poisons we humans pour on them, no matter how often we mow them down or dig them up, dandelions just seem to keep coming back.
Maybe what dandelions need is a better public relations firm, one that will highlight their good qualities. For example:
1. Dandelions evolved 30 million years ago in Eurasia. Since the entire plant is edible, they have been an important food source for both humans and other animals for thousands of years.
2. Some ancient peoples (such as the Chinese) used dandelions for medicinal purposes.
3. Their raw leaves are high in Vitamin A, C, and K.
4. Some farmers plant fields of dandelions to attract pollinating insects for their crops. Dandelions also release ethylene gas which helps to ripen fruit.
5. Their yellow flowers can be ground into a powder and used as a yellow dye.
6. And folklore tells us if you make a wish while blowing on a dandelion seed head, your wish will come true!
When writing about the dandelion, Howard Hanger makes a good point: maybe we should think of ourselves as dandelions: “imbued with creative power and resilience. Capable of great beauty and magical transformation… Or, if you have trouble with that comparison, simply remember that you’re made by, and of, the same spirit as that magically poetic, courageous and goofy little plant.”
What has been your experience with dandelions? Have you ever waged war against them? Have you ever eaten them or made wine or honey from them? Have you ever put them in a vase in your house?
Have you ever showed the resilience of the dandelion in your life? In other words, have you ever shown courage, gutsiness, or perseverance?
PS: Thank you for your prayers for the retreat I led last week at Villa Marie Pauline Retreat Center in Mendham Borough, NJ. We had about 32 Sisters from various religious communities. How much I enjoyed being with them! I also want to thank Sister Monique, SCC, for taking care of all our needs during the week. She was kind, gentle, and generous to all!
Here is a picture of Villa Marie Pauline sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity. It is absolutely beautiful! And the view of the valley from the back porch is awe-inspiring. If you’re looking for a retreat center, you might want to check it out on line.
I have two good videos for you today. The first, using time lapse photography, shows (in1min.) the magical transformation of the dandelion from golden flower to white puffy seed head. The second (9 mins.) is a captivating contemplative video called “The Beauty of an Ordinary Life.” It features a woman in the English countryside, a lover of dandelions, who enjoys making dandelion honey syrup.
Request for prayers: I just received word that four Sisters of Mercy of Rochester, NY, were in a terrible car accident this morning, Sunday. One sister, Audrey, was killed. Another, Joanne, is in critical condition. The other two do not have life-threatening injuries. They were at their community’s vacation house and were on their way to Mass. Please pray for everyone involved in the accident as well as all the Sisters of Mercy. My heart goes out to all their Sisters. You may recall, I gave a retreat to this congregation in April. Both Arlene and Joanne were on that retreat… I thank you for your prayers.
Time lapse photography of a dandelion (1min.)
“Beauty of an ordinary day… making dandelion honey. (9 Mins. with closed captions available)
I would love your comments on this post: the reflection itself, the pictures, the two videos, your additions or insights. Please share some of your thoughts below. My readers (and I!) enjoy reading what you have to say!