We are “those” neighbors; the ones with the two-week’s growth of grass and the yard full of dandelions. We can’t help it. We want our land to be a safe place for our child and our pets to play, which, for us, means no chemicals. I’ve tried pulling up the dandelions one by one before they go to seed, but I’m not committed enough to the effort for it to do much good. If truth be told, I don’t mind seeing those yellow flowers out there. I admire their tenacity.
There are countless resources for one to call upon regarding the usefulness of Taraxacum officinale, or the common Dandelion. The roots, the leaves, the flowers; every part is useful. For this very reason, it has been in our medical and culinary toolkits since the tenth century. But for just a moment, I want you to forget about turning those flower heads into wine or adding those leaves to your salad. For a moment, come join me in a journey back to childhood and experience this stubborn, determined, hardy, spunky little flower as we did when we were young.
You are Loved
There is much folklore about the ways in which dandelions bridge us to our loved ones. Some say that the puffball seeds carry a message of love when we think of our beloved as we blow on them. Herbalists have used the flowers in love potions. When I was a child, my mother used to tell me that if I rubbed a dandelion under my chin and my skin turned yellow, then I was loved. Of course, it’s a sure thing that these yellow flowers will leave their mark, as they make a very good temporary skin dye, and that’s the point. What a magical way to tell your little one that your love is with them constantly and continuously, as hardy and plentiful as the dandelions they pluck. Their chin will always turn yellow because they are always loved.
When I was little, the time just after a good rain was perfection. With the world washed clean and smelling wet and fresh, my sister and I would rush outside to race toothpicks in the rivulets of water that gurgled along the curb towards the storm drains. The dandelions came with us, too, in these post-shower excursions. With tiny fingernails, we would slice the stems into filament-thin strands, drop them into the puddles, and absolutely delight as they corkscrewed into tight curlicues. The thinner we could get the strands, the tighter the spiral. Of course, cell turgidity and uneven water absorption is the real reason this happens, but I prefer the breathless magic of fairy curls and little girls’ laughter.
Crown For a Day
On a middle school trip to a nature preserve, I braided a dandelion crown and left it on a picnic table. A teacher, not knowing who made it, put it on and wore it the rest of the day. From that moment on I have been smitten with the idea of leaving flower gifts for friends and strangers to happen upon. Nothing quite lifts your day like a sweet, anonymous present. The flowers in this crown will fade after a day, encouraging us to revel in the moment and to enjoy its beauty while we can.
Gather about thirty dandelions to make a small to medium-sized crown. Make sure to pluck them close to the ground to get as much stem as you can.
Take two of your flowers and place one perpendicular to the other, the heads of the flowers close together.
Take the stem of the vertical flower and bend it up behind the horizontal stem. Then bring it up between the two flower heads and wrap it in front of the flower head to which it belongs, making it parallel to the horizontal stem.
Continue to add flowers in this manner, wrapping the new flower stem around all the ones that precede it. Soon, you will have a lovely yellow chain of flowers.
When you come to your last flower, bring the ends of the chain together to form a circle. Snuggle the head of the first flower in the chain next to the penultimate one. To attach the two ends together, take your last flower and add it between the first and second flowers in the chain, but catching up all the stems from the end of the chain. Now wrap that last stem any which way to secure it along with all the stems.
Give the crown to someone you love so that they can be Flower King for the day, or leave it on a park bench to be found by someone who needs that little bit of dandelion magic.
Courtney Cable is a Midwestern mama of one who strives to find the creative beauty in each day. She blogs about keeping a simple, mindful and sustainable home at A Life Sustained.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.