copyright 1999 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved


Crank's Corner: Commentary by Linda Marcas


In Defense of Dandelions

   May, the first of the Muggy Months, and welcome to the Great Black Swamp.
Aside from the humidity, May brings a profusion of one of my favorite flowers, the
much-maligned dandelion.

   Let me begin by saying that a pristine green lawn is the way that American
descendants of European peasants show the rest of the world how much arable land they
can afford not to farm.  In the Old Days in the Old Country, the only people who could
afford real estate that didn't earn its keep by producing food crops or by serving as animal
pasturage were the members of the aristocracy.  They could also afford servants to keep
that idle land trimmed and tidy.  The result: the people with palaces were also the people
with lawns.

   Okay, jump forward in time a couple hundred years and westwards to a new
continent.  If a man's home is his castle (or palace), then of course he needs the lawn that
goes with it.  Thus began the American suburbanites' War on Dandelions, the ongoing
conflict that costs millions of man-hours, money, blood, sweat, and tears every year.  I
say, STOP! Enough already! Instead of fighting a war you cannot win, learn instead to
embrace the dandelion, that most persecuted of plants, as a symbol of the virtues
Americans claim to hold most dear.

   Think about it.  Dandelions are rugged individuals with a pioneering spirit; they
will grow anywhere, bravely struggling against the most inhospitable conditions, eking
out an existence in the waste spaces of the world, asking help from no one.  I've seen
them blooming in January, finding footholds between slabs of concrete pavement, and
popping back up after fire, flood, and frost.  They don't take "no" for an answer.  They
smile in the face of adversity.  They believe in strong, deep roots, as anyone who has ever
tried to dig one up can tell you.  Rather than being branded a noxious weed, the dandelion
should be enshrined as our national flower!

   Are your forefathers more recently arrived in this country, having fled from
Communism rather than from the tyranny of princes?  The dandelion is still the flower for
you!  Kings and commissars both command compliance; think of the dandelion puff-ball
as a Radio Free Europe broadcasting station, spreading seeds of democratic sedition
behind the Iron Curtain imposed by lawn order dictators, infiltrating the conform-or-die
green of totalitarian turf.  Well, the Cold War is officially over, and democracy won.  So
will the dandelions.

     Like MacArthur in the Philippines, the dandelion says, "I shall return." Years of
chemical warfare (weedkiller), mechanized destruction (mowers and roto-tillers), and
hand-to-hand combat (figure it out) will never break its stubborn spirit.  People should
admire this plant, but instead they treat it like some sort of Yellow Peril, "let one in, and
before you know it, they'll be taking over!"

   And what would be so bad about that?  I know spring has really sprung when I see
fields of sunny dandelion flowers blazing away cheerfully after months of gray and brown
gloom.

   Dandelions are useful as well as decorative; the young leaves are edible, full of
vitamins and minerals, and some people make wine from the flowers.  A dandelion puff
is a free toy for anyone who wants to pluck it and blow; make a wish, tell your fortune,
decide whom to marry, all without calling an expensive psychic hotline.

   Dandelions don't need to be watered, thereby saving millions of gallons of a
precious resource; thanks to their deep roots, your yard will stay green even during a
drought.  Put away your lawnmower and weedkiller and fertilizer; save yourself money
and time while saving the environment from exhaust fumes and toxic chemicals.
Dandelions don't grow very tall, but they always grow.

   Like many of our ancestors, the dandelion was a European immigrant to the New
World.  Like many immigrants, it perseveres in the face of hardships, adversity, and
deliberate hostility, often managing to flourish in spite of them all.  Adopt a more laissez-
faire lawn policy toward this floral metaphor for all that we profess to admire, and
consider this article as a puff piece for Puff Peace: An End to the War on Dandelions!