One of the first flowers to reveal itself in the spring, the Dandelion is a common sight in sidewalk cracks and my own front yard. I saw the first one stealthily growing next to my African daisy by the front fence.
I pledged to stop pulling up these plants, what we usually consider to be “weeds”, as a way to support the local bee population. They are one of the first flowers to nourish honeybees when they emerge from hibernation. And since the honeybee is in serious danger in North America, I figured it was the least I could do.
On further reflection, I realized that there is more to the Dandelion than meets the eye. What a powerful little plant, and how much I can learn from it.
Dandelions pop up seemingly out of nowhere. They grow in the most difficult places, where there’s little water and poor soil (as well as my semi-manicured garden). They are extremely hardy. That’s some resilience, and something I could use more of.
It occurred to me that Dandelions give completely of themselves. Their leaves are food for animals (and apparently are edible for humans, too, although I’m not sure if the garden variety is fit for our consumption), deeply appreciated when abundant foliage still isn’t readily available in early spring. The health benefits and medicinal use of various parts of the Dandelion have been revered for centuries.
They unfold a beautiful yellow flower that offers nectar and pollen to bees. Dandelions are very important providers of food for bees, and it is said that settlers from Europe actually brought Dandelions over for this purpose. The Europeans knew that bees not only provided us honey, but were essential to growing crops. And how the Dandelion has propagated as a result of that!
Not only does this common yellow-flowered plant give of itself as food and medicine for other animals, but ask any child and they also give much beauty and joy. I always found these yellow flowers delightful. Like sourgrass, their sunny and bright blooms were harbingers of springtime. You didn’t have to plant them – they’d just show up and add color to the empty lots across the street, the patch of dirt behind a store, the corner of the yard by the shed.
But the greatest delight of children is near the end of their life-cycle. Who didn’t find joy at least once as a child, almost anywhere in the world, by blowing on a puff-ball of Dandelion seed and making a wish? I remember seeking out as many of them as I could with my friends, and seeing who could blow all the seeds off with just one exhale. Do you?
Then, we’d watch as the seeds floated and drifted away, sometimes carried high by a breeze. Where would they land? Where would those seeds become new Dandelion plants next spring?
What a brilliant way of propagating itself… the tiniest little seeds attached to a natural kite, just waiting for the next gentle wind to carry itself away.
The Dandelion gives all of itself as food, medicine, beauty, and enjoyment, and then it is spent. It dies, knowing it has touched many, and its offspring will carry on its part of the ecosystem.
Do you have some Dandelions in you? Some parts of yourself that you consider as weeds, useless, a nuisance, that you just want to get rid of? And yet, those parts of you may harbor some of the most powerful, healing qualities. The sadness in you may be a well of compassion for others. In one instance, you may see yourself as resistant and slow; in another, you’re recognized as patient and discerning. You might not believe you have much to offer others, and yet you find people seek you out for wisdom, comfort, or a safe haven to just be themselves.
You have within you many gifts that make a difference to others, even if you don’t always see it that way.
How can you be of more service to the world, like the Dandelion? How can you nourish others, or bring them delight?
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