the gardener i’ve got my trowel and my trencher she said i’m off to sow so saying, a-sowing she went with words hidden up her sleeves an idea or two tucked into her hatband and the rows await pull out weedy fallacy cut back dead superstition cultivate and amend and then drop the seed in fertile soil this stubborn patch of clay that deep, tilled loam all in her care all in her care i've got my trowel and my trencher and a-gardening she went and goes each and every day
The Old Farmer’s Almanac announced that April 5th is Dandelion Day. I’m fairly certain this is not a thing, but it should be. Dandelions are pleasurable in so many ways. Just imagine an early summer lawn dotted with bee-covered smiling suns! And when you need calm, there is nothing better than sitting in the dandelions. (I’m thinking the entire world needs a collective dandelion break right now.) In my opinion, dandelions are one of three good reasons to grow grass. (The other two are clover honey and baseball.)
With their long tap-root, dandelions bring nutrients up from the subsoil. They are feeding all the surrounding plants. Plant them in the greens bed for extra healthy salads. They are magnificent bee plants, absolutely loaded with pollen. Brush them to your face and you’ll be adorned with golden kisses. They are also loaded with nutrients, and all parts of the plant are edible. Steam the roots and eat them with a cheesy sauce. Eat new greens from from the garden with a balsamic dressing and maybe a bit of walnut, or boil the older ones and eat them like collard greens. Make tea from the leaves and flowers for a refreshing spring tonic. The flowers can be eaten raw, though they’re bitter, but the best way to enjoy these nutrient-dense natural snacks is in beer-batter fritters. (You must guard these from ravaging teenagers if you want to eat them yourself.) The second best way — and one that takes more planning — is to make dandelion wine. (We’ll be doing this later in the spring when there are dandelions in New England, but here’s a recipe for you to try if you have flowers already.)
Here’s a selection of poetry that celebrates the dandelion.
The First Dandelion Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging, As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been, Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass — innocent, golden, calm as the dawn, The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face. — Walt Whitman
Dandy Dandelion When Dandy Dandelion wakes And combs his yellow hair, The ant his cup of dewdrop takes And sets his bed to air; The worm hides in a quilt of dirt To keep the thrush away, The beetle dons his pansy shirt— They know that it is day! And caterpillars haste to milk The cowslips in the grass; The spider, in his web of silk, Looks out for flies that pass. These humble people leap from bed, They know the night is done: When Dandy spreads his golden head They think he is the sun! Dear Dandy truly does not smell As sweet as some bouquets; No florist gathers him to sell, He withers in a vase; Yet in the grass he's emperor, And lord of high renown; And grateful little folk adore His bright and shining crown. — Christopher Morley Dandelion There's a dandy little fellow, Who dresses all in yellow, In yellow with an overcoat of green; With his hair all crisp and curly, In the springtime bright and early A-tripping o'er the meadow he is seen. Through all the bright June weather, Like a jolly little tramp, He wanders o'er the hillside, down the road; Around his yellow feather, Thy gypsy fireflies camp; His companions are the wood lark and the toad. But at last this little fellow Doffs his dainty coat of yellow, And very feebly totters o'er the green; For he very old is growing And with hair all white and flowing, A-nodding in the sunlight he is seen. Oh, poor dandy, once so spandy, Golden dancer on the lea! Older growing, white hair flowing, Poor little baldhead dandy now is he! — Nellie M. Garabrant
To the Dandelion Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way, Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold, First pledge of blithesome May, Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold, High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they An Eldorado in the grass have found, Which not the rich earth's ample round May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be. Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow Through the primeval hush of Indian seas, Nor wrinkled the lean brow Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease; Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand, Though most hearts never understand To take it at God's value, but pass by The offered wealth with unrewarded eye. Thou art my tropics and mine Italy; To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime; The eyes thou givest me Are in the heart, and heed not space or time: Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment In the white lily's breezy tent, His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first From the dark green thy yellow circles burst. Then think I of deep shadows on the grass, Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze, Where, as the breezes pass, The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways, Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass, Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue That from the distance sparkle through Some woodland gap, and of a sky above, Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move. My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee; The sight of thee calls back the robin's song, Who, from the dark old tree Beside the door, sang clearly all day long, And I, secure in childish piety, Listened as if I heard an angel sing With news from heaven, which he could bring Fresh every day to my untainted ears When birds and flowers and I were happy peers. How like a prodigal doth nature seem, When thou, for all thy gold, so common art! Thou teachest me to deem More sacredly of every human heart, Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show, Did we but pay the love we owe, And with a child's undoubting wisdom look On all these living pages of God's book. — James Russell Lowell
©Elizabeth Anker 2021