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May 24, 2013

STAWAR: The lawns of summer

“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.” 

— Ray Bradbury


My wife Diane and I have noticed that the Taraxacum are certainly plentiful this year. Taraxacum is just the fancy Latin word for dandelions, and for some reason they are especially prolific.

Lately we’ve seen entire fields of dandelions and street curbs full of what appears to be “dandelion snow.” I wonder if this means we will have even more next year. I also imagine that I have been inhaling a lot of those fuzzy parachutes and that has led to a lot more sneezing than usual this year.

I have always liked dandelions, although they were my father’s mortal enemy. Those he couldn’t immediately decapitate with his sling blade, he unmercifully attacked with various homebrewed chemicals as he cursed them. He disliked crab grass, but dandelions were beneath his contempt. They made him angry. A saffron-dotted lawn was proof positive of not only sloppiness, but reprehensible laziness — the emperor of all sins. 

As for me, I get a little misty when I remember the way our kids, when they were little, would pick bright yellow bouquets and proudly present them to their mom like they were a treasure. And who can resist scattering the tiny single-seeded fruits (achenes) by blowing on the seed heads. 

As a child, I remember spending an enormous amount of time just sitting in the grass repetitively making rings, bracelets and chains out of dandelion stems. Few things in nature have as much entertainment value as dandelions. 

Dandelions are even one of the components of root beer. Of course, our own children couldn’t sit in the grass and play with dandelions where we lived in Florida, due to the fire ants. And here in Indiana, you would run the risk of being attacked by ticks or chiggers. 

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