Dandelions are not beautiful. Or that’s what someone decided a while back.
America spends tens of millions of dollars eradicating this lovely flower from their blandly uniform green lawns.
I’m an American. My family doesn’t spend very much getting them out of our lawn, but we do prefer uniform green blandness. (I have been known to pick the little flowers and throw them in the street — not a very effective method for preventing them from returning.)
Apparently, it’s not just an American obsession. They are also considered weeds in England, Australia and Denmark — to name just a few other cultures that categorize them as a nuisance.
Even the post-flower seed blooms are amazing — uniform spheres of light fluffy helicopters, each waiting to be carried by the wind onto a neighbor’s yard. Ikea took inspiration from this stage of the plant to create their Maskros lamp.
The dandelion’s medicinal qualities are so many that one must venture to at least the third page of Google results until it’s possible to find any reference to them being weeds. (The French word is pissenlit.)
But who decided that dandelions are ugly? Maybe it’s the spiky green leaves — when the English word is translated from sort-of French, the word literally means “teeth of lions.”
Or maybe the flowers blooming so fast and growing taller than the grass around them offends people who appreciate consistency and visual homogeneity.
I vote for a law requiring that dandelions will forever be considered beautiful.
Last Friday evening was a significant occasion for our family. Our oldest son Jay, a senior, was voted “Mr. Eagle” at a big high school event. He beat 11 other contestants. (His class has roughly 500 kids.)
It was thrilling to hear them announce the new Mr. Eagle, in a room of more than 700 screaming kids. Well, a few were adults, though I’m not sure how many of those were screaming. Heather and I screamed along with the rest.
Looking back, I remembered one of the events that shaped who Jay is today. We moved to Kenya, Africa in 2005, for a two year work assignment. Shortly after we arrived, Heather enrolled both Jay and Ben in Ligi Ndogo (“small league”) — a soccer club for boys. They were the only white kids in the whole league. They learned to relate to kids of another culture and to speak a little Swahili. They didn’t want to go every Saturday, but we basically forced them to take part. “Eat your spinach, it’s good for you!”
The Mr. Eagle evening included answering questions that the contestants were not prepared for. Jay’s question: “What one thing would you do differently, if you could live your life over?” He paused and said he wished he had been able to spend more time in Africa.
This is the very first guest post by Heather, my wife. Yay! (She wrote it back in August.)
It’s 100 degrees this August day in Denver. The school year has started at a time that feels way too early. Our family’s getting cheated out of beautiful days in the mountains, and togetherness around campfires. Summer is not over yet! The narrow window of warm summer mountain days has not closed.
“Busy” has started for everyone but me, and I am alone. What a rare place to find myself. I head rebelliously to the mountains for a hike. I want to see the exotic colors of “the best show of wildflowers in years.” I’m pulled in, determined to soak in the beauty, alone or not. I park and start walking. A short distance later, I leave the forest and the carpet of wildflowers behind and trudge along alpine tundra, passing little springs flowing from melting snowfields. The sun flashes silver and sparkly on an emerald alpine lake. Massive, intimidating and stunningly beautiful peaks surround me on all sides.
I am small in the vast silence. I see how big God is. I speak, but no human hears. My voice and footsteps fall like a tiny drop of rain in the ocean, but the sound reassures me. I’m a little scared. I sit, read, and think, letting a fresh breeze blow away the stale and the stuck in my mind. The sun has moved, the clouds are gathering. It’s time to go back down. Things look different going this direction. I feel invigorated and happy. This heart-pumping day has changed me. Life among mountains always does.