It is a beautiful day here in Coronado today. The sun is shining with nary a cloud in the sky and a soft breeze tickled my face as I walked through the village.
Most Fridays I go to the village to get some errands done – going to the bank, the store, perhaps the post office or library. Today’s chores included the bank and an impromptu stop at Bay Books, our local independent book store.
I love books of all kinds…but that is a topic for another day.
On my way back home, I strolled past a patch of thick green grass speckled with bright yellow dandelions. I thought they looked quite lovely. True harbingers of spring, most people consider dandelions to be weeds that ruin a yard. And that is exactly what my father thought when they invaded our lawn.
My father was an amazing gardener whose rock gardens were photographed by hundreds of people who drove by our house each spring and summer.
He also took great pride in his lawn. He bought a truck load of mushroom dirt to supplement the soil. He researched and pondered what grass seed mix to use to create the greenest and most lush lawn. So, when dandelions showed up, they were not welcome.
As anyone who has fought the battle against dandelions knows, they seem to grow in vast numbers over night. On the days when he awoke to find our yard being over taken by these pesky ‘weeds’, he would announce that everyone had to go out and pick dandelions.
This proclamation would produce a sigh from my mother and a groan from my brother. Being very young and idolizing my father, I would initially think of it as quite the lark.
We would line up and my father would give us a choice of tools. My mother always opted for the small spade, while my brother and I would each take a dandelion tool (formerly called a dandelion weeder).
Armed with our weapons, we would spread out over the acre yard and pounce on the invaders. My father would occasionally remind us to make sure we got the roots and would do spot inspections to make sure we were pulling out the dandelions right.
Dandelions are hard to pull from the ground as their roots seem to grasp hold of the earth refusing to let go. However, inserting the dandelion tool and loosening the dirt around the root does the trick and you can pull out the dandelion root, leaves and all.
As the day would wear on, our baskets would fill with dandelions until my father was satisfied that we had conquered the current lot.
But, we weren’t done yet…we had to extract the dandelions leaves for my mother to clean and cook. Yes, horror of horrors, after we spent hours picking them, we had to eat the dandelions!
My mother would stand at the stove steaming the greens as my father looked on with delight. To this day I can remember how bitter the cooked greens tasted, no matter how they were prepared. As you can imagine, I never became a big fan of them and soon enough I no longer considered dandelion picking a lark.
In fact, dandelion greens are good for you. They are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Hmm, still not sure I want to go pick dandelion greens to eat! How about you?