I walked up to the trail this morning and followed it across the bridge over the Mississippi and on over to Hillton Road. It was warm, humid, sunny and breezy. I noted the greens across the landscape on either side of the road. My first thought was of what I might do with a palet of paint, a brush and a canvas. What would I mix with the green paint to create the varieties and how would I dab it to imitate the boldness or whispiness I could see in the vegitation? What does succulent look like, I wondered.
On the edge where my feet pounded, I came across a dandelion’s puff ball. A lawn mower had broken the stem and it lay there among other weeds protected from the wind. I picked it up. As soon as it was lifted and exposed to the breeze, the white puffy umbrella-like sprouts began breaking away and spinning off carrying the seeds to new places. After an initial blast, I noted that three of the sprouts hung on tightly and even if I turned it or lifted it higher toward the sky, they continued to cling on for dear life.
I decided to carry the fading plant with me as I continued my walk. Every so often I glanced at it again to see if the final three sprouts were still there. After a while, my mind was taken by other sights: the torrents of brown foam pouring through the open gates of the dam, a bush that had pods that looked like little green beans, places where poison ivy popped up along the trail, the sign with a yellow canoe that pointed down into forest below. Another day I will break away and follow that narrow trail to the river’s edge.
My hand was getting sweaty so I switched the flower to my other hand and noted that all of the sprouts were gone but for a few undeveloped ones in the center. The wind would not get these. I thought to take it home with me and set it in a vase to remind me…of what, I was not sure. They are like character defects, I thought, which are taken away by the wind in due time. Only the wind will take them no matter how the dandelion may desire to let them go sooner.
When I turned and came to the bridge again, I decided to drop the plant through the fence into the rushing river below. I would let the water do the work the wind could not. There was another puff ball as I neared home. I picked it up. I was walking straight into the wind now and as I lifted the flower, every sprout jumped away in one quick gust.
Did you know that there are other names for dandelions? Here is a list I found on the internet: blow ball, cankerwort, lion’s tooth, pissabed, priest’s-crown, pu-kung-ying, swine snout, telltime, white endive, and wild endive. And the health benefits are innumerable. In Germany people grow them on purpose, harvesting them for their many uses.