Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dandelion

On my early morning walks I constantly marvel at all created things. There is so much beauty to behold and appreciate, sometimes it overwhelms me. So, I was surprised this morning when I wondered, "Why am I paying more attention to the weeds?" No sooner had I wondered than the answer came to me.

Weeds have a "beauty" all their own. They are strong and hearty, created in the same manner as those we intentionally plant in our yard and recognize as beautiful. In the wild, they can really accentuate the natural landscape with color. They thrive in spite of the fierce battle they wage for survival. And we humans can be at a complete loss to conquer them!

I have a new, heightened awareness of weeds in the same way I have learned to appreciate the winter. All things, indeed, serve purpose. Man tries hard to squelch the weed, keep it from his garden, his lawn. I observed a landscape maintenance person the other day on the greenbelt spraying weeds. This is done on a regular basis in every yard. We can control them, but we can never prevent the weed from coming back, spreading. They are so very determined and strong, they even crop up in the cracks of the sidewalk.

The dandelion is especially challenging in one's lawn. As a child, I remember the fun of making a wish and blowing off the top of the white little globe. This carries the seeds in the wind and spreads the weed like wildfire! Who knew? It was a treasure to find!

I was interested enough to look it up; after all, what we call "weeds" are still God's creation and grow in the wild with absolutely no care other than what nature gives it. And here is what I found: 
  • Dandelions were introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring.
  • Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, sauteed or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge. 
  • Some people eat the greens from spring to fall, when they're very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) in two changes of water. It is all a matter of preference.Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they're the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late fall. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers.  
  • People today shun bitter flavors as they are conditioned by overly sweet or salty processed food. But in earlier times, we distinguished between good and bad bitterness. Mixed with other flavors, as in a salad, dandelions improve the flavor. 

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