Dandelions

Guest Column by James Strachan

Every spring, I go to war. That requires ammunition, weapons, and energy. It is a war that many urban dwellers fight, and many farmers agonize over. I'm speaking, of course, about dandelions, the curse of the Urban Lawn and Garden! The curse of many a Farm Field as well. Just when you think you've won a decisive battle, having cut off the heads of all the Golden Soldiers, you rise in the morning to find them back again in full force! They drink Killex for breakfast, they shrug off Roundup unless it is applied very carefully, and many plants duck low beneath the blades of the lawnmower and survive even that! Of course, vinegar will kill them…and everything else it touches for two feet around! By August, I am in despair…no hope of victory!

Military strategists remind us that we should always: "Know your enemy!" So I set out to know the dandelion. Its name comes from the French (no, not Quebec). It means "dente de lion" - "lion's teeth" because of the saw-toothed shape of its leaves. Because of its diuretic qualities, the medieval English called it "pissabed," for reasons that require no explanation!

However (and isn't there always a 'however'?), the Dandelion also has many uses. The leaves can be eaten raw as a salad, or cooked in a soup. Currently, bunched dandelion leaves are sold at a higher price than lettuce! Jam can be made from the flowers, as well as a very powerful wine. I have had personal (adolescent) experience with this. It took days for me to recover. The root has medicinal properties. A 'decoction' of the root produces a powerful diuretic (see above), which can be obtained only with a medical prescription!

Gentle reader, it appears that we…I in particular…are digging up and poisoning a FORTUNE! As a good Scot it is difficult for me to contemplate that possibility. Perhaps I should start a dandelion farm! I'm sure that some of the retired farmers in the Liar's Club would help me…with free advice, at least. Imagine it: a crop that needs no tending, that reseeds itself all summer, that produces ten, perhaps fifteen crops per season! It can withstand all kinds of weather, including hail, drought and early snow. No cultivation is required, but harvesting is best done by hand. And…once you are making money from it, a field of golden dandelion flowers is a beautiful sight to behold!

In my research and contemplation, I remembered one more memorable aspect of the dandelion: it is virtually impossible to uproot. It is tenaciously alive, no matter how hard an enemy works at digging it out. I got to thinking that the dandelion might be an appropriate symbol for the Christian movement, for the Church. Bright in color, with many nourishing and medicinal uses, virtually impossible to kill, with a root that goes deep into even the toughest soil, the dandelion shares its glory with all who pass, and spreads its seeds far and wide on the wind.

Perhaps in front of every church in the land, up front, near the walk or path, there should be a dandelion patch planted. Each month of summer, we could watch that patch spread. Each winter, we could rest assured that come spring, the dandelions would be back in force. Soon, our whole Churchyard would be covered with gold. It would require no cutting, no watering, and it would urge us on to share the Word, and spread the seeds of faith. Some Churches would be full; others would be empty as the people went out to live their dandelion-faith in other yards and other fields. Wow, what a concept! And no more war every spring.[Hmmm… I wonder what our neighbors would think?]


Congregational News August 2008 Vol. 14 No. 6

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