The dandelions – a true story
Fat Teddy, who lives down the road from us, believes in rejuvenation. And rejuvenation for Teddy means dandelions. This time of year every square foot of Teddy’s yard, except parts of his driveway where the concrete is extra thick, is covered with a blanket of yellow. This includes the gutters. Those that haven’t fallen off already.
Let’s just say Teddy has a more relaxed stance on yard maintenance than my wife whose plants have been taught to salute when she walks by.
Teddy, who proves messiness does not preclude a sense of humour, calls this his Festival of Dandelions, and this year has out done himself. Twenty-three dandelions are growing in the back of his Ford Ranger, a.k.a. “The Weed Ranger.” Since the truck is a daily driver, he’s become a local celebrity, drawing small crowds wherever he parks, delighting young and old with his four-wheel drive truck garden.
Some find this cute, and I’m one of them. Just don’t tell my wife who, along with her select group of garden commandos, is secretly assembling flamethrowers in preparation of pulling the full George Bush on Teddy’s yard. Note: Dandelions and blowtorches don’t get along.
Teddy, who studied law before he got smart and became a plumber, is of the opinion that dandelions have fallen victim to a grave injustice. “We have been hasty drawing lines in the humus,” he states. “Dandelions have been unjustly convicted of being a weed when in fact they are a flower. Given that the dividing line between a weed and a flower is blurry at best, the dandelion has been treated most unfairly.”
He aptly points out that a more accommodating flower you will never find. They plant themselves, need no water, can withstand repeated abuse, have no thorns, bloom throughout the summer, never look bedraggled, and always remain cheerful even when you’ve parked your car on them. Plus, they’ll grow anywhere. All it takes is a little humidity and three specks of dirt, which explains that yellow thing hanging out of your nose.
In addition, they’re edible. Enjoy them in salads; make wine from the flowers, coffee from the roots. As Teddy says, “try that with your stupid daffodil.”
Plus, they’re playful, turning themselves into little puffballs that a young male can blow into the face of his younger sister when she’s not looking. You simply don’t get that kind of performance out of a tulip.
Why then are they castigated? Is it simply because they’re too friendly, too accommodating, too prolific? Or is this an international conspiracy as some dandelion activists suggest?
Certainly the abuse dandelions suffer is never ending. The name calling alone would drive a less enduring species off the face of the planet. In England, where you would expect tolerance, they’re known as milk witch, pee-a-head, wet-a-head and for some reason only known to the Brits, doon-head-clock. How they have survived, yet alone proliferated in the face if such adversity is a great source of horticultural mystery.
The Europeans are even less kind, the French call dandelions moles lettuce and dog’s salad; the Italians insensitively refer to the innocent yellow flower as dog pisses because they’re found at the side of pavements. (Cautionary note: Oddly enough, cat pee is a common description of Sauvignon Blanc’s smell. With dandelion wine one can expect a more canine aroma.)
(Sensitive reader alert. A rough patch of adolescent humour lies ahead. If you are prone to writing letters to the editor, avert thine eyes.)
Well, Teddy is fighting back. Which is why dandelion activists everywhere are joining PENIS, People for the Ethical Nurturing of Indigenous Species. A $23.95 membership gets you an eye catching hemp tee shirt that smells suspiciously like a banned substance, and a PENIS bumper sticker that your teenage son will gladly affix to the bumper of your Prius. We’re also accepting suggestions for a new name as not everybody appreciates the one we’ve got.
Some of you who are already members ask: What can I do now? First and foremost is to bring attention to the dandelion’s plight by wearing your tee shirt, although maybe not around adolescent males. Secondly, Teddy plans to exploit the dandelion’s gastronomic versatility. This means a cookbook, so everyone start collecting your favourite dandelion recipes now.
Teddy was thinking of borrowing the 100-mile diet concept but tightening up on the radius. Treasures From Your Backyard, he’ll call it, and of course his truck and gutters will be featured on the cover.
Teddy, just to show his law degree wasn’t wasted, plans, as part of his promotion to discredit kale. “Why should something that looks like a plumped out marijuana plant get all the publicity?” he rightly asks. Plans on how he intends to do this aren’t finalized, but would involve a newly released video of Rob Ford stuffing kale into a large marijuana pipe. Either that or a leaked conversation with John Tortorella, formerly of the Canucks, admitting that the special “kale three times a day” diet he had the team on failed to live up to expectations.
Finally, we need a Hollywood star to take up the cause. While we’re waiting for Brad and Angelina to get back to us, the Dan D. Lion mascot position is up for grabs. If people confuse you with the MGM lion, please forward your resume. In the meantime, keep those memberships coming in, as the Weed Ranger could use new tires.
As a tasty summer alternative to dandelion wine, try a bottle of Ruffino Orvieto, $12.99 in the Italian section. Drinking nicely, plus it has the advantage of not being doon-head-clock yellow.
– Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House Restaurant in Cedar. Read more of his articles at Slightlycorkedandmore.wordpress.com